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Full text of "The dead secret A novel"

OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 



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INIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORN 







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THE DEAD SECRET; 



Noocl. 



BY WILKIE COLLINS, 



AUTHOR OF 



"THE WOMAN IN WHITE," "POOR MISS FINCH," "NO NAME, 
MAN AND WIFE," "THE MOONSTONE," &c. 



WITH 




NEW YORK: 

HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS, 

FRANKLIN SQUARE. 
1874. 



WlLKIE COLLINS S NOVELS. 



HARPER S ILLUSTRATED LIBRARY EDITION, 

12mo, Cloth, $1 50 per Volume. 

ARM AD ALE. MAN AND WIFE. 

BASIL. POOR MISS FINCH. 

HIDE-AND-SR3F, , TTIE MOONSTONE. 

* *.. ", 

THE NEW MAG&A LEN. * -THE WOMAN IN WHITE. 

NO NAME. ( . .... . THE DEAD SECRET. 



PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by 

HARPER & BROTHERS, 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



l N 




95S443 



THE DEAD SECRET. 



BOOK I. 
CHAPTER I. 

THE TWENTY-THIRD OP AUGUST, 1829. 

" WILL she last out the night, I wonder ?" 

" Look at the clock, Mathew." 

"Ten minutes past twelve ! She has lasted the night out. 
She has lived, Robert, to see ten minutes of the new day." 

These words were spoken in the kitchen of a large country- 
house situated on the west coast of Cornwall. The speakers 
were two of the men-servants composing the establishment 
of Captain Treverton, an officer in the navy, and the eldest 
male representative of an old Cornish family. Both the 
servants communicated with each other restrainedly, in whis 
pers sitting close together, and looking round expectantly 
toward the door whenever the talk flagged between them. 

" It s an awful thing," said the elder of the men, " for us 
two to be alone here, at this dark time, counting out the 
minutes that our mistress has left to live !" 

" Robert," said the other, " you have been in the service 
here since you were a boy did you ever hear that our mis 
tress was a play-actress when our master married her ?" 

"How came you to know that?" inquired the elder serv 
ant, sharply. 

"Hush !" cried the other, rising quickly from his chair. 

A bell rang in the passage outside. 

"Is that for one of us?" asked Mathew. 

" Can t you tell, by the sound, which is which of those 
bells yet ?" exclaimed Robert, contemptuously. " That bell 
is for Sarah Leeson. Go out into the passage and look." 

A2 



8 THE DEAD SECRET. 

The younger servant took a candle and obeyed. When 
he opened the kitchen-door, a long row of bells met his eye 
on the wall opposite. Above each of them was painted, in 
neat black letters, the distinguishing title of the servant 
whom it was specially intended to summon. The row of 
letters began with Housekeeper and Butler, and ended with 
Kitchen-maid and Footman s Boy. 

Looking along the bells, Mathew easily discovered that 
one of them was still in motion. Above it were the words 
Lady s-Maid. Observing this, he passed quickly along the 
passage, and knocked at an old-fashioned oak door at the 
end of it. No answer being given, he opened the door and 
looked into the room. It was dark and empty. 

"Sarah is not in the housekeeper s room," said Mathew, 
returning to his fellow-servant in the kitchen. 

" She is gone to her own room, then," rejoined the other. 
" Go up and tell her that she ft wanted by her mistress." 

The bell rang again as Mathew went out. 

" Quick ! quick !" cried Robert. " Tell her she is wanted 
directly. Wanted," he continued to himself in lower tones, 
"perhaps for the last time !" 

Mathew ascended three flights of stairs passed half-way 
down a long arched gallery and knocked at another old- 
fashioned oak door. This time the signal was answered. A 
low, clear, sweet voice, inside the room, inquired who was 
waiting without? In a few hasty words Mathew told his 
errand. Before he had done speaking the door was quietly 
and quickly opened, and Sarah Leeson confronted him on the 
threshold, with her candle in her hand. 

Not tall, not handsome, not in her first youth shy and 
irresolute in manner simple in dress to the utmost limits 
of plainness the lady s-maid, in spite of all these disadvan 
tages, was a woman whom it was impossible to look at with 
out a feeling of curiosity, if not of interest. Few men, at 
first sight of her, could have resisted the desire to find out 
who she was ; few would have been satisfied with receiving 
for answer, She is Mrs. Treverton s maid ; few would have 
refrained from the attempt to extract some secret informa 
tion for themselves from her face and manner; and none, 
not even the most patient and practiced of observers, could 
have succeeded in discovering more than that she must have 



THE DEAD SECRET. 9 

passed through the ordeal of some great suffering at some 
former period of her life. Much in her manner, and more in 
her face, said plainly and sadlyj I am the wreck of some- 
thing that you might once have liked to SPP n, wm k that 
call never be repaired that must drift on through life unno-. 
ticect, ungmdecU unpiued driit till the fatal shore is touched, 
and the waves of Time have swallowed up these broken 
relics of me forever] This was the story that was told in 
Sarah Leeson s facie" this, and no more. 

No two men interpreting that story for themselves, would 
probably have agreed on the nature of the suffering which 
this woman had undergone. It was hard to say, at the out 
set, whether the past pain that had set its ineffaceable mark 
on her had been pain of the body or pain of the mind. But 
whatever the nature of the affliction she had suffered, the 
traces it had left were deeply and strikingly visible in every 
part of her face. 

Her cheeks had lost their roundness and their natural 
color; her lips, singularly flexible in movement and delicate 
in form, had faded to an unhealthy paleness ; her eyes, large 
and black and overshadowed by unusually thick lashes, had 
contracted an anxious startled look, which never left them, 
and which piteously expressed the painful acuteness of her 
sensibility, the inherent timidity of her disposition. So far, 
the marks which sorrow or sickness had set on her were the 
marks common to most victims of mental or physical suffer 
ing. The one extraordinary personal deterioration which 
she had undergone consisted in the unnatural change that 
had passed over the color of her hair. It w r as as thick and 
soft, it grew as gracefully, as the hair of a young girl ; but 
it was as gray as the hair of an old woman. It seemed to 
contradict, in the most startling manner, every personal as 
sertion of youth that still existed in her face. With all its 
haggardness and paleness, no one could have looked at it and 
supposed for a moment that it was the face of an elderly 
woman. Wan as they might be, there was not a wrinkle in 
her cheeks. Her eyes, viewed apart from their prevailing 
expression of uneasiness and timidity, still preserved that 
bright, clear moisture which is never seen in the eyes of the 
old. The skin about her temples was as delicately smooth 
us the skin of a child. These and other physical signs which 



10 THE DEAD SECKET. 

never mislead, showed that she was still, as to years, in the 
very prime of her life. Sickly and sorrow-stricken as she 
was, she looked, from the eyes downward, a woman who had 
barely reached thirty years of age. From the eyes upward, 
the effect of her abundant gray hair, seen in connection with 
her face, was not simply incongruous it was .absolutely 
startling ; so startling as to make it no paradox to say that 
she would have looked most natural, most like herself, if her 
hair had been dyed. In her case, Art would have seemed 
to be the truth, because Nature looked like falsehood. 

What shock had stricken her hair, in the very maturity of 
its luxuriance, with the hue of an unnatural old age ? Was 
it a serious illness, or a dreadful grief, that had turned her 
gray in the prime of her womanhood ? That question had 
often been agitated among her fellow-servants, who were all 
struck by the peculiarities of her personal appearance, and 
rendered a little suspicious of her, as well, by an inveterate 
habit that she had of talking to herself. Inquire as they 
might, however, their curiosity was always baffled. Noth 
ing more could be discovered than that Sarah Leeson was, 
in the common phrase, touchy on the subject of her gray 
hair and her habit of talking to herself, and that Sarah Lee- 
son s mistress had long since forbidden every one, from her 
husband downward, to ruffle her maid s tranquillity by in 
quisitive questions. 

She stood for an instant speechless, on that momentous 
morning of the twenty-third of August, before the servant 
who summoned her to her mistress s death-bed the light of 
the candle flaring brightly over her large, startled, black 
eyes, and the luxuriant, unnatural gray hair above them. 
She stood a moment silent her hand trembling while she 
held the candlestick, so that the extinguisher lying loose in 
it rattled incessantly then thanked the servant for calling 
her. The trouble and fear in her voice, as she spoke, seemed 
to add to its sweetness ; the agitation of her manner took 
nothing away from its habitual gentleness, its delicate, win 
ning, feminine restraint. Mathew, who, like the other serv 
ants, secretly distrusted and disliked her for differing from 
the ordinary pattern of professed lady s-maids, was, on this 
particular occasion, so subdued by her manner and her tone 
as she thanked him, that he offered to carry her candle for 



THE DEAD SECRET. 11 

her to the door of her mistress s bed-chamber. She shook 
her head, and thanked him again, then passed before him 
quickly on her way out of the gallery. 

The room in which Mrs. Treverton lay dying was on the 
floor beneath. Sarah hesitated twice before she knocked at 
the door. It was opened by Captain Treverton. 

The instant she saw her master she started back from him. 
If she had dreaded a blow she could hardly have drawn 
away more suddenly, or with an expression of greater alarm. 
There was nothing in Captain Treverton s face to warrant 
the suspicion of ill-treatment, or even of harsh words. His 
countenance was kind, hearty, and open ; and the tears were 
still trickling down it which he had shed by his wife s bed 
side. 

" Go in," he said, turning away his face. " She does not 
wish the nurse to attend ; she only wishes for you. Call me 
if the doctor " His voice faltered, and he hurried away 
without attempting to finish the sentence. 

Sarah Leeson, instead of entering her mistress s room, stood 
looking after her master attentively, with her pale cheeks 
turned to a deathly whiteness with an eager, doubting, 
questioning terror in her eyes. When he had disappeared 
round the corner of the gallery, she listened for a moment 
outside the door of the sick-room whispered affrightedly to 
herself, " Can she have told him ?" then opened the door, 
with a visible effort to recover her self-control ; and, after lin 
gering suspiciously on the threshold for a moment, went in. 

Mrs. Treverton s bed-chamber was a large, lofty room, sit 
uated in the western front of the house, and consequently 
overlooking the sea-view. The night-light burning by the 
bedside displayed rather than dispelled the darkness in the 
corners of the room. The bed was of the old-fashioned pat 
tern, with heavy hangings and thick curtains drawn all 
round it. Of the other objects in the chamber, only those of 
the largest and most solid kind were prominent enough to be 
tolerably visible in the dim light. The cabinets, the ward 
robe, the full-length looking-glass, the high-backed arm-chair, 
these, with the great shapeless bulk of the bed itself, towered 
up heavily and gloomily into view. Other objects were all 
merged together in the general obscurity. Through the open 
window, opened to admit the fresh air of the new morning 



12 THE DEAD SECRET. 

after the sultriness of the August night, there poured mo 
notonously into the room the dull, still, distant roaring of 
the surf on the sandy coast. All outer noises were hushed at 
that first dark hour of the new day. Inside the room the 
one audible sound was the slow, toilsome breathing of the 
dying woman, raising itself in its mortal frailness, awfully 
and distinctly, even through the far thunder-breathing from 
the bosom of the everlasting sea. 

" Mistress," said Sarah Leeson, standing close to the cur 
tains, but not withdrawing them, " my master has left the 
room, and has sent me here in his place." 

" Light ! give me more light." 

The feebleness of mortal sickness was in the voice ; but the 
accent of the speaker sounded resolute even yet doubly 
resolute by contrast with the hesitation of the tones in which 
Sarah had spoken. The strong nature of the mistress and 
the weak nature of the maid came out, even in that short in 
terchange of words spoken through the curtain of a death 
bed. 

Sarah lit two candles with a wavering hand placed them 
hesitatingly on a table by the bedside waited for a moment, 
looking all round her with suspicious timidity then undrew 
the curtains. 

The disease of which Mrs. Treverton was dying was one 
of the most terrible of all the maladies that afflict humanity, 
one to which women are especially subject, and one which 
undermines life without, in most cases, showing any remark 
able traces of its corroding progress in the face. No unin- 
structed person, looking at Mrs. Treverton when her attend 
ant undrew the bed-curtain, could possibly have imagined 
that she was past all help that mortal skill could offer to her. 
The slight marks of illness in her face, the inevitable changes 
in the grace and roundness of its outline, were rendered 
hardly noticeable by the marvelous preservation of her com 
plexion in all the light and delicacy of its first girlish beauty. 
There lay her face on the pillow tenderly framed in by the 
rich lace of her cap, softly crowned by her shining brown 
hair to all outward appearance, the face of a beautiful wom 
an recovering from a slight illness, or reposing after unusual 
fatigue. Even Sarah Leeson, who had watched her all 
through her malady, could hardly believe, as she looked at 



THE DEAD SECKET. 13 

her mistress, that the Gates of Life had closed behind her, and 
that the beckoning hand of Death was signing to her already 
from the Gates of the Grave. 

Some dog s-eared books in paper covers lay on the counter 
pane of the bed. As soon as the curtain was drawn aside 
Mrs. Treverton ordered her attendant by a gesture to remove 
them. They were plays, underscored in certain places by 
ink lines, and marked with marginal annotations referring to 
entrances, exits, and places on the stage. The servants, talk 
ing down stairs of their mistress s occupation before her mar 
riage, had not been misled by false reports. Their master, 
after he had passed the prime of life, had, in very truth, taken 
his wife from the obscure stage of a country theatre, when 
little more than two years had elapsed since her first appear 
ance in public. The dog s-eared old plays had been once her 
treasured dramatic library; she had always retained a fond 
ness for them from old associations; and, during the latter 
part of her illness, they had remained on her bed for days 
and days together. 

Having put away the plays, Sarah went back to her mis 
tress ; and, with more of dread and bewilderment in her face 
than grief, opened her lips to speak. Mrs. Treverton held up 
her hand, as a sign that she had another order to give. 

" Bolt the door," she said, in the same enfeebled voice, but 
with the same accent of resolution which had so strikingly 
marked her first request to have more light in the room. 
" Bolt the door. Let no one in, till I give you leave." 

"No one?" repeated Sarah, faintly. "Not the doctor? 
not even my master?" 

" Not the doctor not even your master," said Mrs. Trev 
erton, and pointed to the door. The hand was weak ; but 
even in that momentary action of it there was no mistaking 
the gesture of command. 

Sarah bolted the door, returned irresolutely to the bedside, 
fixed her large, eager, startled eyes inquiringly on her mis 
tress s face, and, suddenly bending over her, said in a whis 
per: 

" Have you told my master ?" 

" No," was the answer. " I sent for him, to tell him I 
tried hard to speak the words it shook me to my very soul, 
only to think how T should best break it to him I am so 



14 THE DEAD SECKET. 

fond of him ! I love him so dearly ! But I should have 
spoken in spite of that, if he had not talked of the child. 
Sarah ! he did nothing but talk of the child and that si 
lenced me." 

Sarah, with a forgetfulness of her station which might 
have appeared extraordinary even in the eyes of the most 
lenient of mistresses, flung herself back in a chair when the 
first word of Mrs. Treverton s reply was uttered, clasped her 
trembling hands over her face, and groaned to herself, " Oh, 
what will happen ! what will happen now !" 

Mrs. Treverton s eyes had softened and moistened when she 
spoke of her love for her husband. She lay silent for a few 
minutes ; the working of some strong emotion in her being 
expressed by her quick, hard, labored breathing, and by the 
painful contraction of her eyebrows. Ere long, she turned 
her head uneasily toward the chair in which her attendant 
was sitting, and spoke again this time in a voice which 
had sunk to a whisper. 

" Look for my medicine," said she ; " I want it." 

Sarah started up, and with the quick instinct of obedience 
brushed away the tears that were rolling fast over her cheeks. 

" The doctor," she said. " Let me call the doctor." 

" No ! The medicine look for the medicine." 

" Which bottle ? The opiate" 

" No. Not the opiate. The other." 

Sarah took a bottle from the table, and looking attentively 
at the written direction on the label, said that it was not yet 
time to take that medicine again. 

" Give me the bottle." 

" Oh, pray don t ask me. Pray wait. The doctor said it 
was as bad as dram-drinking, if you took too much." 

Mrs. Treverton s clear gray eyes began to flash ; the rosy 
flush deepened on her cheeks; the commanding hand was 
raised again, by an effort, from the counterpane on which it 
lay. 

" Take the cork out of the bottle," she said, " and give it 
to me. I want strength. No matter whether I die in an 
hour s time or a week s. Give me the bottle." 

" No, no not the bottle !" said Sarah, giving it up, never 
theless, under the influence of her mistress s look. " There 
are two doses left. Wait, pray wait till I get a glass." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 15 

She turned again toward the table. At the same instant 
Mrs. Treverton raised the bottle to her lips, drained it of its 
contents, and flung it from her on the bed. 

"She has killed herself!" cried Sarah, running in terror to 
the door. 

" Stop !" said the voice from the bed, more resolute than 
ever, already. " Stop ! Come back and prop me up higher 
on the pillows." 

Sarah put her hand on the bolt. 

"Come back!" reiterated Mrs. Treverton. "While there 
is life in me, I will be obeyed. Come back !" The color be 
gan to deepen perceptibly all over her face, and the light to 
grow brighter in her widely opened eyes. 

Sarah came back; and with shaking hands added one 
more to the many pillows which supported the dying wom 
an s head and shoulders. While this was being done the 
bed-clothes became a little discomposed. Mrs. Treverton 
shuddered, and drew them up to their former position, close 
round her neck. 

" Did you unbolt the door ?" she asked. 

" No." 

"I forbid you to go near it again. Get my writing-case, 
and the pen and ink, from the cabinet near the window." 

Sarah went to the cabinet and opened it ; then stopped, as 
if some sudden suspicion had crossed her mind, and asked 
what the writing materials were wanted for. 

"Bring them, and you will see." 

The writing-case, with a sheet of note-paper on it, was 
placed upon Mrs.Treverton s knees; the pen was dipped into 
the ink, and given to her ; she paused, closed her eyes for a 
minute, and sighed heavily ; then began to write, saying to 
her waiting-maid, as the pen touched the paper " Look." 

Sarah peered anxiously over her shoulder, and saw the 
pen slowly and feebly form these three words : To my Hus 
band. 

" Oh, no ! no ! For God s sake, don t write it !" she cried, 
catching at her mistress s hand but suddenly letting it go 
again the moment Mrs. Treverton looked at her. 

The pen went on ; and more slowly, more feebly, formed 
words enough to fill a line then stopped. The letters of 
the last syllable were all blotted together. 



16 THE DEAD SECKET. 

"Don t !" reiterated Sarah, dropping on her knees at the 
bedside. " Don t write it to him if you can t tell it to him. 
Let me go on bearing what I have borne so long already. 
Let the Secret die with you and die with me, and be never 
known in this world never, never, never!" 

"The Secret must be told," answered Mrs. Treverton. 
" My husband ought to know it, and must know it. I tried 
to tell him, and my courage failed me. I can not trust you 
to tell him, after I am gone. It must be written. Take you 
the pen ; my sight is failing, my touch is dull. Take the pen, 
and write what I tell you." 

Sarah, instead of obeying, hid her face in the bed-cover, 
and wept bitterly. 

" You have been with me ever since my marriage," Mrs. 
Treverton went on. " You have been my friend more than 
my servant. Do you refuse my last request ? You do ! 
Fool ! look up and listen to me. On your peril, refuse to 
take the pen. Write, or I shall not rest in my grave. Write, 
or as true as there is a Heaven above us, I will come to you 
from the other icorldf" 

Sarah started to her feet with a faint scream. 

" You make my flesh creep !" she whispered, fixing her eyes 
on her mistress s face with a stare of superstitious horror. 

At the same instant, the overdose of the stimulating med 
icine began to affect Mrs. Treverton s brain. She rolled her 
head restlessly from side to side of the pillow repeated va 
cantly a few lines from one of the old play-books which had 
been removed from her bed and suddenly held out the pen 
to the servant, with a theatrical wave of the hand, and a 
glance upward at an imaginary gallery of spectators. 

" Write !" she cried, with an awful mimicry of her old stage 
voice. " Write !" And the weak hand was waved again with 
a forlorn, feeble imitation of the old stage gesture. 

Closing her fingers mechanically on the pen that was thrust 
between them, Sarah, with her eyes still expressing the su 
perstitious terror which her mistress s words had aroused, 
waited for the next command. Some minutes elapsed before 
Mrs. Treverton spoke again. She still retained her senses 
sufficiently to be vaguely conscious of the effect which the 
medicine was producing on her, and to be desirous of com 
bating its further progress before it succeeded in utterly con- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 17 

fusing her ideas. She asked first for the smelling-bottle, next 
for some Eau de Cologne. 

This last, poured onto her handkerchief and applied to her 
forehead, seemed to prove successful in partially clearing her 
faculties. Her eyes recovered their steady look of intelli 
gence ; and, when she again addressed her maid, reiterating 
the word " Write," she was able to enforce the direction by 
beginning immediately to dictate in quiet, deliberate, deter 
mined tones. Sarah s tears fell fast ; her lips murmured frag 
ments of sentences in which entreaties, expressions of peni 
tence, and exclamations of fear were all strangely mingled 
together ; but she wrote on submissively, in wavering lines, 
until she had nearly filled the first two sides of the note-paper. 
Then Mrs. Treverton paused, looked the writing over, and, 
taking the pen, signed her name at the end of it. With this 
effort, her powers of resistance to the exciting effect of the 
medicine seemed to fail her again. The deep flush began to 
tinge her cheeks once more, and she spoke hurriedly and un 
steadily when she handed the pen back to her maid. 

" Sign !" she cried, beating her hand feebly on the bed 
clothes. "Sign * Sarah Leeson, witness. No! write* Ac 
complice. Take your share of it; I won t have it shifted on 
me. Sign, I insist on it ! Sign as I tell you." 

Sarah obeyed; and Mrs. Treverton taking the paper from 
her, pointed to it solemnly, with a return of the stage gest 
ure which had escaped her a little while back. 

" You will give this to your master," she said, " when I am 
dead; and you will answer any questions he puts to you as 
truly as if you were before the judgment-seat." 

Clasping her hands fast together, Sarah regarded her mis 
tress, for the first time, with steady eyes, and spoke to her 
for the first time in steady tones. 

"If I only knew that I was fit to die," she said, "oh, how 
gladly I would change places with you !" 

" Promise me that you will give the paper to your master," 
repeated Mrs. Treverton. " Promise no ! I won t trust your 
promise I ll have your oath. Get the Bible the Bible the 
clergyman used w r hen he was here this morning. Get it, or 
I shall not rest in my grave. Get it, or I ivill come to you 
from the other world" 

The mistress laughed as she reiterated that threat. The 



18 THE DEAD SECRET. 

maid shuddered, as she obeyed the command which it was 
designed to impress on her. 

" Yes, yes the Bible the clergyman used," continued Mrs. 
Treverton, vacantly, after the book had been produced. 
" The clergyman a poor weak man I frightened him, Sa 
rah. He said, Are you at peace with all the world ? and I 
said, All but one. You know who." 

" The Captain s brother ? Oh, don t die at enmity with any 
body. Don t die at enmity even with him" pleaded Sarah. 

" The clergyman said so too," murmured Mrs. Treverton, 
her eyes beginning to wander childishly round the room, her 
tones growing suddenly lower and more confused. " You 
must forgive him, the clergyman said. And I said, l No, I 
forgive all the world, but not my husband s brother. The 
clergyman got up from the bedside, frightened, Sarah. He 
talked about praying for me, and coming back. Will he 
come back ?" 

" Yes, yes," answered Sarah. " He is a good man he will 
come back and oh! tell him that you forgive the Captain s 
brother ! Those vile words he spoke of you when you were 
married will come home to him some day. Forgive him 
forgive him before you die !" 

Saying those words, she attempted to remove the Bible 
softly out of her mistress s sight. The action attracted Mrs. 
Treverton s attention, and roused her sinking faculties into 
observation of present things. 

" Stop !" she cried, with a gleam of the old resolution flash 
ing once more over the dying dimness of her eyes. She 
caught at Sarah s hand with a great effort, placed it on the 
Bible, and held it there. Her other hand wandered a little 
over the bed-clothes, until it encountered the written paper 
addressed to her husband. Her fingers closed on it, and a 
sigh of relief escaped her lips. 

" Ah !" she said, "I know what I wanted the Bible for. I m 
dying with all my senses about me, Sarah ; you can t deceive 
me even yet." She stopped again, smiled a little, whispered 
to herself rapidly, "Wait, wait, wait!" then added aloud, 
with the old stage voice and the old stage gesture : " No ! 
I won t trust you on your promise. I ll have your oath. 
Kneel down. These are my last words in this world diso 
bey them if you dare !" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 19 

Sarah dropped on her knees by the bed. The breeze out 
side, strengthening just then with the slow advance of the 
morning, parted the window-curtains a little, and wafted a 
breath of its sweet fragrance joyously into the sick-room. 
The heavy beating hum of the distant surf came in at the 
same time, and poured out its unresting music in louder 
strains. Then the window-curtains fell to again heavily, the 
wavering flame of the candle grew steady once more, and the 
awful silence in the room sank deeper than ever. 

" Swear !" said Mrs.Treverton. Her voice failed her when 
she had pronounced that one word. She struggled a little, 
recovered the power of utterance, and went on : " Swear that 
you will not destroy this paper after I am dead." 

Even while she pronounced these solemn words, even at 
that last struggle for life and strength, the ineradicable the 
atrical instinct showed, with a fearful inappropriateness, how 
firmly it kept its place in her mind. Sarah felt the cold hand 
that was still laid on hers lifted for a moment saw it wav 
ing gracefully toward her felt it descend again, and clasp 
her own hand with a trembling, impatient pressure. At that 
final appeal, she answered faintly, 

" I swear it." 

" Swear that you will not take this paper away with you, 
if you leave the house, after I am dead." 

Again Sarah paused before she answered again the trem 
bling pressure made itself felt on her hand, but more weakly 
this time and again the words dropped affrightedly from 
her lips 

"I swear it." 

"Swear!" Mrs.Treverton began for the third time. Her 
voice failed her once more ; and she struggled vainly to re 
gain the command over it. 

Sarah looked up, and saw signs of convulsion beginning to 
disfigure the white face saw the fingers of the white, deli 
cate hand getting crooked as they reached over toward the 
table on which the medicine-bottles were placed. 

" You drank it all," she cried, starting to her feet, as she 
comprehended the meaning of that gesture. " Mistress, dear 
mistress, you drank it all there is nothing but the opiate 
left. Let me go let me go and call " 

A look from Mrs. Treverton stopped her before she could 



20 THE DEAD SECRET. 

utter another word. The lips of the dying woman were mov 
ing rapidly. Sarah put her ear close to them. At first she 
heard nothing but panting, quick-drawn breaths then a few 
broken words mingled confusedly with them : 

" I hav n t done you must swear close, close, come close 
a third thing your master swear to give it " 

The last words died away very softly. The lips that had 
been forming them so laboriously parted on a sudden and 
closed again no more. Sarah sprang to the door, opened it, 
and called into the passage for help ; then ran back to the 
bedside, caught up the sheet of note-paper on which she had 
written from her mistress s dictation, and hid it in her bosom. 
The last look of Mrs. Treverton s eyes fastened sternly and 
reproachfully on her as she did this, and kept their expression 
unchanged, through the momentary distortion of the rest of 
the features, for one breathless moment. That moment pass 
ed, and, with the next, the shadow which goes before the pres 
ence of death stole up and shut out the light of life in one 
quiet instant from all the face. 

The doctor, followed by the nurse and by one of the serv 
ants, entered the room ; and, hurrying to the bedside, saw at 
a glance that the time for his attendance there had passed 
away forever. He spoke first to the servant who had fol 
lowed him. 

" Go to your master," he said, " and beg him to wait in his 
own room until I can come and speak to him." 

" Sarah still stood without moving or speaking, or no 
ticing any one by the bedside. 

The nurse, approaching to draw the curtains together, 
started at the sight of her face, and turned to the doctor. 

"I think this person had better leave the room, Sir?" said 
the nurse, with some appearance of contempt in her tones 
and looks. " She seems unreasonably shocked and terrified 
by what has happened." 

" Quite right," said the doctor. " It is best that she should 
withdraw. Let me recommend you to leave us for a little 
while," he added, touching Sarah on the arm. 

She shrank back suspiciously, raised one of her hands to 
the place where the letter lay hidden in her bosom, and 
pressed it there firmly, while she held out the other hand for 
a candle. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 21 

" You had better rest for a little in your own room," said 
the doctor, giving her a candle. " Stop, though," he contin 
ued, after a moment s reflection. " I am going to break the 
sad news to your master, and I may find that he is anxious 
to hear any last words that Mrs. Treverton may have spoken 
in your presence. Perhaps you had better come with me, 
and wait while I go into Captain Treverton s room." 

"No! no! oh, not now not now, for God s sake!" 
Speaking those words in low, quick, pleading tones, and draw 
ing back affrightedly to the door, Sarah disappeared without 
waiting a moment to be spoken to again. 

"A strange woman !" said the doctor, addressing the nurse. 
" Follow her, and see where she goes to, in case she is want 
ed and we are obliged to send for her. I will wait here until 
you come back." 

When the nurse returned she had nothing to report but 
that she had followed Sarah Leeson to her own bedroom, had 
seen her enter it, had listened outside, and had heard her 
lock the door. 

"A strange woman !" repeated the doctor. "One of the 
silent, secret sort." 

" One of the wrong sort," said the nurse. " She is always 
talking to herself, and that is a bad sign, in my opinion. I 
distrusted her, Sir, the very first day I entered the house." 



CHAPTER II. 

THE CHILD. 

THE instant Sarah Leeson had turned the key of her bed 
room door, she took the sheet of note-paper from its place of 
concealment in her bosom shuddering, when she drew it 
out, as if the mere contact of it hurt her placed it open on 
her little dressing-table, and fixed her eyes eagerly on the 
lines which the note contained. At first they swam and min 
gled together before her. She pressed her hands over her 
eyes, for a few minutes, and then looked at the writing again. 

The characters were clear now vividly clear, and, as she 
fancied, unnaturally large and near to view. There was the 
address : " To my Husband ;" there the first blotted line be 
neath, in her dead mistress s handwriting; there the lines that 



22 THE DEAD SECRET. 

followed, traced by her own pen, with the signature at the 
end Mrs. Treverton s first, and then her own. The whole 
amounted to but very few sentences, written on one perish 
able fragment of paper, which the flame of a candle would 
have consumed in a moment. Yet there she sat, reading, 
reading, reading, over and over again; never touching the 
note, except when it was absolutely necessary to turn over 
the first page ; never moving, never speaking, never raising 
her eyes from the paper. As a condemned prisoner might 
read his death-warrant, so did Sarah Leeson now read the 
few lines which she and her mistress had written too-ether 

O 

not half an hour since. 

The secret of the paralyzing effect of that writing on her 
mind lay, not only in itself, but in the circumstances which 
had attended the act of its production. 

The oath which had been proposed by Mrs. Treverton un 
der no more serious influence than the last caprice of her dis 
ordered faculties, stimulated by confused remembrances of 
stage words and stage situations, had been accepted by Sarah 
Leeson as the most sacred and inviolable engagement to 
which she could bind herself. The threat of enforcing obe 
dience to her last commands from beyond the grave, which 
the mistress had uttered in mocking experiment on the super 
stitious fears of the maid, now hung darkly over the weak 
mind of Sarah, as a judgment which might descend on her, 
visibly and inexorably, at any moment of her future life. 
When she roused herself at last, and pushed away the paper 
and rose to her feet, she stood quite still for an instant, before 
she ventured to look behind her. When she did look, it was 
with an effort and a start, with a searching distrust of the 
empty dimness in the remoter corners of the room. 

Her old habit of talking to herself began to resume its in 
fluence, as she now walked rapidly backward and forward, 
sometimes along the room and sometimes across it. She re 
peated incessantly such broken phrases as these : " How can 
I give him the letter? Such a good master; so kind to us 
all. Why did she die, and leave it all to me f I can t bear 
it alone ; it s too much for me." While reiterating these sen 
tences, she vacantly occupied herself in putting things about 
the room in order, which were set in perfect order already. 
All her looks, all her actions, betrayed the vain struggle of a 



THE DEAD SECRET. 23 

weak mind to sustain itself under the weight of a heavy re 
sponsibility. She arranged and re-arranged the cheap china 
ornaments on her chimney-piece a dozen times over put her 
pin-cushion first on the looking-glass, then on the table in 
front of it changed the position of the little porcelain dish 
and tray on her wash-hand-stand, now to one side of the basin, 
and now to the other. Throughout all these trifling actions 
the natural grace, delicacy, and prim neat-handedness of the 
woman still waited mechanically on the most useless and aim 
less of her occupations of the moment. She knocked nothing 
down, she put nothing awry ; her footsteps at the fastest 
made no sound the very skirts of her dress were kept as 
properly and prudishly composed as if it was broad daylight 
and the eyes of all her neighbors were looking at her. 

From time to time the sense of the words she was murmur 
ing confusedly to herself changed. Sometimes they disjoint- 
edly expressed bolder and more self-reliant thoughts. Once 
they seemed to urge her again to the dressing-table and the 
open letter on it, against her own will. She read aloud the 
address, " To my Husband," and caught the letter up sharp 
ly, and spoke in firmer tones. " Why give it to him at all? 
Why not let the secret die with her and die with me, as it 
ought ? Why should he know it ? He shall not know it !" 

Saying those last words, she desperately held the letter 
within an inch of the flame of the candle. At the same mo 
ment the white curtain over the window before her stirred a 
little, as the freshening air found its way through the old- 
fashioned, ill-fitting sashes. Her eye caught sight of it, as it 
waved gently backward and forward. She clasped the letter 
suddenly to her breast with both hands, and shrank back 
against the wall of the room, her eyes still fastened on the 
curtain with the same blank look of horror which they had 
exhibited when Mrs. Treverton had threatened to claim her 
servant s obedience from the other world. 

" Something moves," she gasped to herself, in a breathless 
whisper. " Something moves in the room." 

The curtain waved slowly to and fro for the second time. 
Still fixedly looking at it over her shoulder, she crept along 
the wall to the door. 

u Do you come to me already?" she said, her eyes riveted 
on the curtain while her hand groped over the lock for the 

B 



24 THE DEAD SECRET. 

key. "Before your grave is dug? Before your coffin is 
made ? Before your body is cold ?" 

She opened the door and glided into the passage ; stopped 
there for a moment, and looked back into the room. 

"Rest!" she said. "Rest, mistress he shall have the 
letter." 

The staircase-lamp guided her out of the passage. De 
scending hurriedly, as if she feared to give herself time to 
think, she reached Captain Treverton s study, on the ground- 
floor, in a minute or two. The door was wide open, aiid the 
room was empty. 

After reflecting a little, she lighted one of the chamber-can 
dles standing on the hall-table, at the lamp in the study, and 
ascended the stairs again to her master s bedroom. After re 
peatedly knocking at the door and obtaining no answer, she 
ventured to go in. The bed had not been disturbed, the can 
dles had not been lit to all appearance the room had not 
even been entered during the night. 

There was but one other place to seek him the chamber 
in which his wife lay dead. Could she summon the courage 
to give him the letter there ? She hesitated a little then 
whispered, " I must ! I must !" 

The direction she now compelled herself to take led her a 
little way down the stairs again. She descended very slowly 
this time, holding cautiously by the banisters, and pausing 
to take breath almost at every step. The door of what had 
been Mrs. Treverton s bedroom was opened, when she vent 
ured to knock at it, by the nurse, who inquired, roughly and 
suspiciously, what she wanted there. 

" I want to speak to my master." 

"Look for him somewhere else. He was here half an hour 
ago. He is gone now." 

"Do you know where he has gone?" 

"No. I don t pry into other people s goings and comings. 
I mind my own business." 

With that discourteous answer, the nurse closed the door 
again. Just as Sarah turned away from it she looked toward 
the inner end of the passage. The door of the nursery w r as 
situated there. It was ajar, and a dim gleam of candle-light 
was flickering through it. 

She went in immediately, and saw that the candle-light 




"AND TOWARD THE OPENING THUS MADE SAKAH NOW ADVANCED. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 25 

came from an inner room, usually occupied, as she well knew, 
by the nursery-maid and by the only child of the house of 
Treverton a little girl named Rosamond, aged, at that time, 
nearly five years. 

"Can he be there? in that room, of all the rooms in the 
house !" 

Quickly as the thought arose in her mind, Sarah raised the 
letter (which she had hitherto carried in her hand) to the 
bosom of her dress, and hid it for the second time, exactly as 
she had hidden it on leaving her mistress s bedside. 

She then stole across the nursery on tiptoe toward the 
inner room. The entrance to it, to please some caprice ot 
the child s, had been arched, and framed with trellis-work, 
gayly colored, so as to resemble the entrance to a summer- 
house. Two pretty chintz curtains, hanging inside the 
trellis-work, formed the only barrier between the day-room 
and the bedroom. One of these was looped up, and toward 
the opening thus made Sarah now advanced, after cautiously 
leaving her candle in the passage outside. 

The first object that attracted her attention in the child s 
bedroom was the figure of the nurse-maid, leaning back, 
fast asleep, in an easy-chair by the window. Venturing, after 
this discovery, to look more boldly into the room, she next saw 
her master sitting with his back toward her, by the side of 
the child s crib. Little Rosamond was awake, and was stand 
ing up in bed with her arms round her father s neck. One 
of her hands held over his shoulder the doll that she had 
taken to bed with her, the other was twined gently in his 
hair. The child had been crying bitterly, and had now ex 
hausted herself, so that she was only moaning a little from 
time to time, with her head laid wearily on her father s bosom. 

The tears stood thick in Sarah s eyes as they looked on her 
master and on the little hands that lay round his neck. She 
lingered by the raised curtain, heedless of the risk she ran, 
from moment to moment, of being discovered and questioned 
lingered until she heard Captain Treverton say soothingly 
to the child : 

"Hush, Rosie, dear! hush, my own love! Don t cry any 
more for poor mamma. Think of poor papa, and try to com 
fort him." 

Simple as the words were, quietly and tenderly as they 



26 THE DEAD SECRET. 

were spoken, they seemed instantly to deprive Sarah Leeson 
of all power of self-control. Reckless whether she was heard 
or not, she turned and ran into the passage as if she had been 
flying for her life. Passing the candle she had left there, 
without so much as a look at it, she made for the stairs, and 
descended them with headlong rapidity to the kitchen-floor. 
There one of the servants who had been sitting up met her, 
and, with a face of astonishment and alarm, asked what was 
the matter. 

"I m ill I m faint I want air," she answered, speaking 
thickly and confusedly. " Open the garden door, and let me 
out." 

The man obeyed, but doubtfully, as if he thought her unfit 
to be trusted by herself. 

" She gets stranger than ever in her ways," he said, when 
he rejoined his fellow-servant, after Sarah had hurried past 
him into the open air. " Now our mistress is dead, she will 
have to find another place, I suppose. I, for one, sha n t break 
my heart when she s gone. Shall you ?" 



CHAPTER III. 

THE HIDING OF THE SECRET. 

THE cool, sweet air in the garden, blowing freshly over 
Sarah s face, seemed to calm the violence of her agitation. 
She turned down a side walk, which led to a terrace and 
overlooked the church of the neighboring village. 

The daylight out of doors was clear already. The misty 
auburn light that goes before sunrise was flowing up, peace 
ful and lovely, behind a line of black -brown moorland, over 
all the eastern sky. The old church, with the hedge of myr 
tle and fuchsia growing round the little cemetery in all the 
luxuriance which is only seen in Cornwall, was clearing and 
brightening to view, almost as fast as the morning firmament 
itself. Sarah leaned her arms heavily on the back of a gar 
den-seat, and turned her face toward the church. Her eyes 
wandered from the building itself to the cemetery by its 
side, rested there, and watched the light growing warmer 
and warmer over the lonesome refuge where the dead lay at 
rest. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 27 

" Oh, my heart ! my heart !" she said. " What must it be 
made of not to break ?" 

She remained for some time leaning on the seat, looking 
sadly toward the church-yard, and pondering over the words 
which she had heard Captain Treverton say to the child. 
They seemed to connect themselves, as every thing else now 
appeared to connect itself in her mind, with the letter that 
had been written on Mrs. Treverton s death-bed. She drew 
it from her bosom once more, and crushed it up angrily in 
her fingers. 

"Still in my hands ! still not seen by any eyes but mine!" 
she said, looking down at the crumpled pages. "Is it all my 
fault? If she was alive now if she had seen what I saw, if 
she had heard what I heard in the nursery could she ex 
pect me to give him the letter ?" 

Her mind was apparently steadied by the reflection which 
her last words expressed. She moved away thoughtfully from 
the garden-seat, crossed the terrace, descended some wooden 
steps, and followed a shrubbery path which led round by a 
windin^ track from the east to the north side of the house. 

O 

This part of the building had been uninhabited and neg 
lected for more than half a century past. In the time of 
Captain Treverton s father the whole range of the north 
rooms had been stripped of their finest pictures and their 
most valuable furniture, to assist in redecorating the west 
rooms, which now formed the only inhabited part of the 
house, and which were amply sufficient for the accommoda 
tion of the family and of any visitors who came to stay with 
them. The mansion had been originally built in the form 
of a square, and had been strongly fortified. Of the many 
defenses of the place, but one now remained a heavy, low 
tower (from which and from the village near, the house de 
rived its name of Porthgenna Tower), standing at the southern 
extremity of the west front. The south side itself consisted 
of stables and out-houses, with a ruinous wall in front of 
them, which, running back eastward at right angles, joined 
the north side, and so completed the square which the whole 
outline of the building represented. 

The outside view of the range of north rooms, from the 
weedy, deserted garden below, showed plainly enough that 
many years had passed since any human creature had inhab- 



28 THE DEAD SECRET. 

ited them. The window-panes were broken in some places, 
and covered thickly with dirt and dust in others. Here, the 
shutters were closed there, they were only half opened. 
The untrained ivy, the rank vegetation growing in fissures 
of the stone-work, the festoons of spiders webs, the rubbish 
of wood, bricks, plaster, broken glass, rags, and strips of 
soiled cloth, which lay beneath the windows, all told the 
same tale of neglect. Shadowed by its position, this ruinous 
side of the house had a dark, cold, wintry aspect, even on the 
sunny August morning when Sarah Leeson strayed into the 
deserted northern garden. Lost in the labyrinth of her own 
thoughts, she moved slowly past flower-beds, long since root 
ed up, and along gravel walks overgrown by weeds ; her 
eyes wandering mechanically over the prospect, her feet me 
chanically carrying her on wherever there was a trace of a 
footpath, lead where it might. 

The shock which the words spoken by her master in the 
nursery had communicated to her mind, had set her whole 
nature, so to speak, at bay, and had roused in her, at last, 
the moral courage to arm herself with a final and desperate 
resolution. "Wandering more and more slowly along the 
pathways of the forsaken garden, as the course of her ideas 
withdrew her more and more completely from all outward 
things, she stopped insensibly on an open patch of ground, 
which had on.ce been a well-kept lawn, and which still com 
manded a full view of the long range of uninhabited north 
rooms. 

" What binds me to give the letter to my master at all ?" 
she thought to herself, smoothing out the crumpled paper 
dreamily in the palm of her hand. "My mistress died with 
out making me swear to do that. Can she visit it on me 
from the other world, if I keep the promises I swore to ob 
serve, and do no more? May I not risk the worst that can 
happen, so long as I hold religiously to all that I undertook 
to do on my oath ?" 

She paused here in reasoning with herself her superstitious 
fears still influencing her out of doors, in the daylight, as they 
had influenced her in her own room, in the time of darkness. 
She paused then fell to smoothing the letter again, and be 
gan to recall the terms of the solemn engagement which 
Mrs. Treverton had forced her to contract. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 29 

What had she actually bound herself to do? Not to de 
stroy the letter, and not to take it away with her if she left 
the house. Beyond that, Mrs. Treverton s desire had been 
that the letter should be given to her husband. Was that 
last wish binding on the person to whom it had been con 
fided ? Yes. As binding as an oath ? No. 

As she arrived at that conclusion, she looked up. 

At first her eyes rested vacantly on the lonely, deserted 
north front of the house ; gradually they became attracted 
by one particular window exactly in the middle, on the floor 
above the ground the largest and the gloomiest of all the 
row ; suddenly they brightened with an expression of intel 
ligence. She started ; a faint flush of color flew into her 
cheeks, and she hastily advanced closer to the wall of the 
house. 

The panes of the large window were yellow with dust and 
dirt, and festooned about fantastically with cobwebs. Be 
low it was a heap of rubbish, scatterred over the dry mould 
of what might once have been a bed of -flowers or shrubs. 
The form of the bed was still marked out by an oblong 
boundary of weeds and rank grass. She followed it irreso 
lutely all round, looking up at the window at every step 
then stopped close under it, glanced at the letter in her 
hand, and said to herself abruptly 

" I ll risk it !" 

As the words fell from her lips, she hastened back to the 
inhabited part of the house, followed the passage on the 
kitchen-floor which led to the housekeeper s room, entered it, 
and took down from a nail in the wall a bunch of keys, hav 
ing a large ivory label attached to the ring that connected 
them, on which was inscribed, " Keys of the North Rooms." 

She placed the keys on a writing-table near her, took up 
a pen, and rapidly added these lines on the blank side of the 
letter which she had written under her mistress s dictation 

" If this paper should ever be found (which I pray with 
my whole heart it never may be), I wish to say that I have 
come to the resolution of hiding it, because I dare not show 
the writing that it contains to my master, to whom it is ad 
dressed. In doing what I now propose to do, though I am 
acting against my mistress s last wishes, I am not breaking 

B2 



30 THE DEAD SECRET. 

the solemn engagement which she obliged me to make be 
fore her on her death-bed. That engagement forbids me to 
destroy this letter, or to take it away with me if I leave the 
house. I shall do neither my purpose is to conceal it in 
the place, of all others, where I think there is least chance 
of its ever being found again. Any hardship or misfortune 
which may follow as a consequence of this deceitful proceed 
ing on my part, will fall on myself. Others, I believe in my 
conscience, will be the happier for the hiding of the dreadful 
Secret which this letter contains." 

She signed those lines with her name pressed them hur 
riedly over the blotting-pad that lay with the rest of the 
writing materials on the table took the note in her hand, 
after first folding it up and then, snatching at the bunch 
of keys, with a look all round her as if she dreaded being se 
cretly observed, left the room. All her actions since she 
had entered it had been hasty and sudden ; she was evident 
ly afraid of allowing herself one leisure moment to reflect. 

On quitting the housekeeper s room, she turned to the left, 
ascended a back staircase, and unlocked a door at the top of 
it. A cloud of dust flew all about her as she softly opened 
the door ; a mouldy coolness made her shiver as she crossed 
a large stone hall, with some black old family portraits hang 
ing on the walls, the canvases of which were bulging out of 
the frames. Ascending more stairs, she came upon a row of 
doors, all leading into rooms on the first floor of the north 
side of the house. 

She knelt down, putting the letter on the boards beside 
her, opposite the key-hole of the fourth door she came to aft 
er reaching the top of the stairs, peered in distrustfully for 
an instant, then began to try the different keys till she*found 
one that fitted the lock. She had great difficulty in accom 
plishing this, from the violence of her agitation, which made 
her hands tremble to such a degree that she was hardly able 
to keep the keys separate one from the other. At length 
she succeeded in opening the door. Thicker clouds of dust 
than she had yet met with flew out the moment the interior 
of the room was visible ; a dry, airless, suffocating atmos 
phere almost choked her as she stooped to pick up the letter 
from the floor. She recoiled from it at first, and took a few 



THE DEAD SECRET. 31 

steps back toward the staircase. But she recovered her res 
olution immediately. 

" I can t go back now !" she said, desperately, and entered 
.the room. 

She did not remain in it more than two or three minutes. 
When she came out again her face was white with fear, and 
the hand which had held the letter when she went into the 
room held nothing now but a small rusty key. 

After locking the door again, she examined the large bunch 
of keys which she had taken from the housekeeper s room, 
with closer attention than she had yet bestowed on them. 
Besides the ivory label attached to the ring that connected 
them, there were smaller labels, of parchment, tied to the 
handles of some of the keys, to indicate the rooms to which 
they gave admission. The particular key which she had 
used had one of these labels hanging to it. She held the 
little strip of parchment close to the light, and read on it, in 
written characters faded by time 

" The Myrtle Room." 

The room in which the letter was hidden had a name, 
then ! A prettily sounding name that would attract most 
people, and keep pleasantly in their memories. A name to 
be distrusted by her, after what she had done, on that very 
account. 

She took her housewife from its usual place in the pocket 
of her apron, and, with the scissors which it contained, cut 
the label from the key. Was it enough to destroy that one 
only ? She lost herself in a maze of useless conjecture ; and 
ended by cutting off the other labels, from no other motive 
than instinctive suspicion of them. 

Carefully gathering up the strirs of parchment from the 
floor, sjie put them, along with the little rusty key which she 
had brought out of the Myrtle Room, in the empty pocket 
of her apron. Then, carrying the large bunch of keys in her 
hand, and carefully locking the doors that she had opened 
on her way to the north side of Porthgenna Tower, she re 
traced her steps to the housekeeper s room, entered it with 
out seeing any body, and hung up the bunch of keys again 
on the nail in the wall. 

Fearful, as the morning hours wore on, of meeting with 
some of the female servants, she next hastened back to her 



32 THE DEAD SECRET. 

bedroom. The candle she had left there was still burning 
feebly in the fresh daylight. When she drew aside the win 
dow-curtain, after extinguishing the candle, a shadow of her 
former fear passed over her face, even in the broad daylight 
that now flowed in upon it. She opened the window, and 
leaned out eagerly into the cool air. 

Whether for good or for evil, the fatal Secret was hidden 
now the act was done. There was something calming in 
the first consciousness of that one fact. She could think 
more composedly, after that, of herself, and of the uncertain 
future that lay before her. 

Under no circumstances could she have expected to re 
main in her situation, now that the connection between her 
self and her mistress had been severed by death. She knew 
that Mrs. Treverton, in the last days of her illness, had ear 
nestly recommended her maid to Captain Treverton s kind 
ness and protection, and she felt assured that the wife s last 
entreaties, in this as in all other instances, would be viewed 
as the most sacred of obligations by the husband. But 
could she accept protection and kindness at the hand of the 
master whom she had been accessory to deceiving, and whom 
she had now committed herself to deceiving still? The bare 
idea of such baseness was so revolting, that she accepted, al 
most with a sense of relief, the one sad alternative that re 
mained the alternative of leaving the house immediately. 

And how was she to leave it ? By giving formal warn 
ing, and so exposing herself to questions which would be 
sure to confuse and terrify her? Could she venture to face 
her master again, after what she had done to face him, 
when his first inquiries would refer to her mistress, when he 
would be certain to ask her for the last mournful details, for 
the slightest word that had been spoken during the death- 
scene that she alone had witnessed ? She started to her feet, 
as the certain consequences of submitting herself to that un 
endurable trial all crowded together warningly on her mind, 
took her cloak from its place on the wall, and listened at her 
door in sudden suspicion and fear. Had she heard footsteps ? 
Was her master sending for her already ? 

No; all was silent outside. A few tears rolled over her 
cheeks as she put on her bonnet, and felt that she was fac 
ing, by the performance of that simple action, the last, and 



THE DEAD SECRET. 33 

perhaps the hardest to meet, of the cruel necessities in which 
the hiding of the Secret had involved her. There was no 
help for it. She must run the risk of betraying every thing, 
or brave the double trial of leaving Porthgenna Tower, and 
leaving it secretly. 

Secretly as a thief might go? Without a word to her 
master? without so much as one line of writing to thank 
him for his kindness and to ask his pardon? She had un 
locked her desk, and had taken from it her purse, one or two 
letters, and a little book of Wesley s Hymns, before these 
considerations occurred to her. They made her pause in 
the act of shutting up the desk. " Shall I write ?" she asked 
herself, " and leave the letter here, to be found when I am 
gone?" 

A little more reflection decided her in the affirmative. 
As rapidly as her pen could form the letters, she wrote a few 
lines addressed to Captain Treverton, in which she confessed 
to having kept a secret from his knowledge which had been 
left in her charge to divulge ; adding, that she honestly be 
lieved no harm could come to him, or to any one in whom he 
was interested, by her failing to perform the duty intrusted 
to her ; and ended by asking his pardon for leaving the 
house secretly, and by begging, as a last favor, that no 
search might ever be made for her. Having sealed this 
short note, and left it on her table, with her master s name 
written outside, she listened again at the door; and, after 
satisfying herself that no one was yet stirring, began to de 
scend the stairs at Porthgenna Tower for the last time. 

At the entrance of the passage leading to the nursery she 
stopped. The tears which she had restrained since leaving 
her room began to flow again. Urgent as her reasons now 
were for effecting her departure without a moment s loss of 
time, she advanced, with the strangest inconsistency, a few 
steps toward the nursery door. Before she had gone far, a 
slight noise in the lower part of the house caught her ear 
and instantly checked her further progress. 

While she stood doubtful, the grief at her heart a greater 
grief than any she had yet betrayed rose irresistibly to her 
lips, and burst from them in one deep gasping sob. The 
sound of it seemed to terrify her into a sense of the danger 
of her position, if she delayed a moment longer. She ran out 



34 THE DEAD SECRET. 

again to the stairs, reached the kitchen-floor in safety, and 
made her escape by the garden door which the servant had 
opened for her at the dawn of the morning. 

On getting clear of the premises at Porthgenna Tower, in 
stead of taking the nearest path over the moor that led to 
the high-road, she diverged to the church ; but stopped before 
she came to it, at the public well of the neighborhood, which 
had been sunk near the cottages of the Porthgenna fishermen. 
Cautiously looking round her, she dropped into the well the 
little rusty key which she had brought out of the Myrtle 
Room; then hurried on, and entered the church-yard. She 
directed her course straight to one of the graves, situated a 
little apart from the rest. On the head-stone were inscribed 
these words : 

SACKED TO THE MEMORY 
OF 



AGED 26 YEARS. 

HE MET WITH HIS DEATH 

THROUGH THE FALL OF A ROCK 

IN 

PORTHGENNA MINE, 
DECEMBER 17TH,1823. 

Gathering a few leaves of grass from the grave, Sarah open 
ed the little book of Wesley s Hymns which she had brought 
with her from the bedroom of Porthgenna Tower, and placed 
the leaves delicately and carefully between the pages. As 
she did this, the wind blew open the title-page of the Hymns, 
and displayed this inscription on it, written in large, clumsy 
characters " Sarah Leeson, her book. The gift of Hugh 
Polwheal." 

Having secured the blades of grass between the pages of 
the book, she retraced her way toward the path leading to 
the high-road. Arrived on the moor, she took out of her 
apron pocket the parchment labels that had been cut from 
the keys, and scattered them under the furze-bushes. 

" Gone," she said, " as I am gone ! God help and forgive 
me it is all done and over now !" 

With those words she turned her back on the old house 



THE DEAD SECRET. 35 

and the sea-view below it, and followed the moorland path 
on her way to the high-road. 

Four hours afterward Captain Treverton desired one of the 
servants at Porthgenna Tower to inform Sarah Leeson that 
he wished to hear all she had to tell him of the dying mo 
ments of her mistress. The messenger returned with looks 
and words of amazement, and with the letter that Sarah had 
addressed to her master in his hand. 

The moment Captain Treverton had read the letter, he or 
dered an immediate search to be made after the missing 
woman. She was so easy to describe and to recognize, by 
the premature grayness of her hair, by the odd, scared look in 
her eyes, and by her habit of constantly talking .to herself, 
that she was traced with certainty as far as Truro. In that 
large town the track of her was lost, and never recovered 
again. 

Rewards were offered ; the magistrates of the district were 
interested in the case ; all that wealth and power could do to 
discover her was done and done in vain. No clew was found 
to suggest a suspicion of her whereabouts, or to help in the 
slightest degree toward explaining the nature of the secret 
at which she had hinted in her letter. Her master never saw 
her again, never heard of her again, after the morning of the 
twenty-third of August, eighteen hundred and twenty-nine. 



36 THE DEAD SECRET. 



BOOK II. 

CHAPTER I. 

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER, 

THE church of Long Beckley (a large agricultural village 
in one of the midland counties of England), although a build 
ing in no way remarkable either for its size, its architecture, 
or its antiquity, possesses, nevertheless, one advantage which 
mercantile London has barbarously denied to the noble cathe 
dral church of St. Paul. It has plenty of room to stand in, 
and it can consequently be seen with perfect convenience 
from every point of view, all around the compass. 

The large open space around the church can be approached 
in three different directions. There is a road from the village, 
leading straight to the principal door. There is a broad 
gravel walk, which begins at the vicarage gates, crosses the 
church-yard, and stops, as in duty bound, at the vestry en 
trance. There is a footpath over the fields, by which the 
lord of the manor, and the gentry in general who live in his 
august neighborhood, can reach the side door of the build 
ing, whenever their natural humility may incline them to en 
courage Sabbath observance in the stables by going to 
church, like the lower sort of worshipers, on their own legs. 

At half-past seven o clock, on a certain fine summer morn 
ing, in the year eighteen hundred and forty-four, if any ob 
servant stranger had happened to be standing in some un 
noticed corner of the church-yard, and to be looking about 
him with sharp eyes, he would probably have been the wit 
ness of proceedings which might have led him to believe 
that there was a conspiracy going on in Long Beckley, of 
which the church was the rallying-point, and some of the 
most respectable inhabitants the principal leaders. Suppos 
ing him to have been looking toward the vicarage as the 
clock chimed the half-hour, he would have seen the vicar of 
Long Beckley, the Reverend Doctor Chennery, leaving his 
house suspiciously, by the back way, glancing behind him 



THE DEAD SECRET. 37 

guiltily as he approached the gravel walk that led to the 
vestry, stopping mysteriously just outside the door, and gaz 
ing anxiously down the road that led from the village. 

Assuming that our observant stranger would, upon this, 
keep out of sight, and look down the road, like the vicar, he 
would next have seen the clerk of the church an austere, 
yellow-faced man a Protestant Loyola in appearance, and a 
working shoemaker by trade approaching with a look of un 
utterable mystery in his face, and a bunch of big keys in his 
hands. He would have seen the vicar nod in an abstracted 
manner to the clerk, and say, " Fine morning, Thomas. "" Have 
you had your breakfast yet ?" He would have heard Thomas 
reply, with a suspicious regard for minute particulars: " I have 
had a cup of tea and a crust, Sir." And he would then have 
seen these two local conspirators, after looking up with one 
accord at the church clock, draw off together to the side door 
which commanded a view of the footpath across the fields. 

Following them as our inquisitive stranger could not fail 
to do he would have detected three more conspirators ad 
vancing along the footpath. The leader of this treasonable 
party was an elderly gentleman, with a weather-beaten face 
and a bluff, hearty manner. His two followers were a young 
gentleman and a young lady, walking arm-in-arm, and talking 
together in whispers. They were dressed in the plainest 
morning costume. The faces of both were rather pale, and 
the manner of the lady was a little flurried. Otherwise there 
was nothing remarkable to observe in them, until they came 
to the w T icket-gate leading into the church-yard ; and there 
the conduct of the young gentleman seemed, at first sight, 
rather inexplicable. Instead of holding the gate open for the 
lady to pass through, he hung back, allowed her to open it 
for herself, waited till she had got to the church-yard side, 
and then, stretching out his hand over the gate, allowed her 
to lead him through the entrance, as if he had suddenly 
changed from a grown man to a helpless little child. 

Noting this, and remarking also that, when the party from 
the fields had arrived within greeting distance of the vicar, 
and when the clerk had used his bunch of keys to open the 
church-door, the young lady s companion was led into the 
building (this time by Doctor Chennery s hand), as he had 
been previously led through the wicket-gate, our observant 



38 TIIE DEAD SECRET. 

stranger must have arrived at one inevitable conclusion 
that the person requiring such assistance as this was suffer 
ing under the affliction of blindness. Startled a little by 
that discovery, he would have been still further amazed, if he 
had looked into the church, by seeing the blind man and the 
young lady standing together before the altar rails, with the 
elderly gentleman in parental attendance. Any suspicions 
he might now entertain that the bond which united the con 
spirators at that early hour of the morning was of the hy 
meneal sort, and that the object of their plot was to celebrate 
a wedding with the strictest secrecy, would have been con 
firmed in five minutes by the appearance of Doctor Chennery 
from the vestry in full canonicals, and by the reading of the 
marriage service in the reverend gentleman s most harmoni 
ous officiating tones. The ceremony concluded, the attendant 
stranger must have been more perplexed than ever by ob 
serving that the persons concerned in it all separated, the 
moment the signing, the kissing, and congratulating duties 
proper to the occasion had been performed, and quickly re 
tired in the various directions by which they had approached 
the church. 

Leaving the clerk to return by the village road, the bride, 
bridegroom, and elderly gentleman to turn back by the foot 
path over the fields, and the visionary stranger of these pages 
to vanish out of them in any direction that he pleases let 
us follow Doctor Chennery to the vicarage breakfast-table, 
and hear what he has to say about his professional exertions 
of the morning in the familiar atmosphere of his own family 
circle. 

The persons assembled at the breakfast were, first, Mr. 
Phippen, a guest ; secondly, Miss Sturch, a governess ; third 
ly, fourthly, and fifthly, Miss Louisa Chennery (aged eleven 
years), Miss Amelia Chennery (aged nine years), and Master 
Robert Chennery (aged eight years). There was no mother s 
face present, to make the household picture complete. Doc 
tor Chennery had been a widower since the birth of his young 
est child. 

The guest was an old college acquaintance of the vicar s, 
and he was supposed to be now staying at Long Beckley for 
the benefit of his health. Most men of any character at all 
contrive to get a reputation of some sort which individualizes 



THE DEAD SECRET. 39 

them in the social circle amid which they move. Mr. Phip 
pen was a man of some little character, and he lived with 
great distinction in the estimation of his friends on the repu 
tation of being A Martyr to Dyspepsia. 

Wherever Mr. Phippen went, the woes of Mr. Phippen s 
stomach went with him. He dieted himself publicly, and 
physicked himself publicly. He was so intensely occupied 
with himself and his maladies, that he would let a chance 
acquaintance into the secret of the condition of his tongue at 
five minutes notice ; being just as perpetually ready to dis 
cuss the state of his digestion as people in general are to dis 
cuss the state of the weather. On this favorite subject, as 
on all others, he spoke with a wheedling gentleness of man 
ner, sometimes in softly mournful, sometimes in languidly 
sentimental tones. His politeness was of the oppressively 
affectionate sort, and he used the word "dear" continually 
in addressing himself to others. Personally, he could not be 
called a handsome man. His eyes were watery, large, and 
light gray ; they were always rolling from side to side in a 
state of moist admiration of something or somebody. His 
nose was long, drooping, profoundly melancholy if such an 
expression may be permitted in reference to that particular 
feature. For the rest, his lips had a lachrymose twist ; his 
stature was small ; his head large, bald, and loosely set on 
his shoulders ; his manner of dressing himself eccentric, on 
the side of smartness ; his age about five-and-forty ; his con 
dition that of a single man. Such was Mr. Phippen, the Mar 
tyr to Dyspepsia, and the guest of the vicar of Long Beckley. 

Miss Sturch, the governess, may be briefly and accurately 
described as a young lady who had never been troubled with 
an idea or a sensation since the day when she was born. She 
was a little, plump, quiet, white -skinned, smiling, neatly 
dressed girl, wound up accurately to the performance of cer 
tain duties at certain times ; and possessed of an inexhausti 
ble vocabulary of commonplace talk, which dribbled placidly 
out of her lips whenever it was called for, always in the same 
quantity, and always of the same quality, at every hour in 
the day, and through every change in the seasons. Miss 
Sturch never laughed, and never cried, but took the safe mid 
dle course of smiting perpetually. She smiled when she came 
down on a morning in January, and said it was very cold. 



40 THE DEAD SECRET. 

She smiled when she came down on a morning in July, and 
said it was very hot. She smiled when the bishop came once 
a year to see the vicar ; she smiled when the butcher s boy 
came every morning for orders. Let what might happen at 
the vicarage, nothing ever jerked Miss Sturch out of the one 
smooth groove in which she ran perpetually, always at the 
same pace. If she had lived in a royalist family, during the 
civil wars in England, she would have rung for the cook, to 
order dinner, on the morning of the execution of Charles the 
First. If Shakspeare had come back to life again, and had 
called at the vicarage at six o clock on Saturday evening, to 
explain to Miss Sturch exactly what his views were in com 
posing the tragedy of Hamlet, she would have smiled and 
said it was extremely interesting, until the striking of seven 
o clock ; at which time she would have left him in the middle 
of a sentence, to superintend the housemaid in the verification 
of the washing-book. A very estimable young person, Miss 
Sturch (as the ladies of Long Beckley were accustomed to 
say) ; so judicious with the children, and so attached to her 
household duties ; such a well-regulated mind, and such a 
crisp touch on the piano ; just nice-looking enough, just well- 
dressed enough, just talkative enough ; not quite old enough, 
perhaps, and a little too much inclined to be embraceably 
plump about the region of the waist but, on the whole, a 
irxost estimable young person very much so, indeed. 

On the characteristic peculiarities of Miss Sturch s pupils, 
it is not necessary to dwell at very great length. Miss Lou 
isa s habitual weakness was an inveterate tendency to catch 
cold. Miss Amelia s principal defect was a disposition to 
gratify her palate by eating supplementary dinners and break 
fasts at unauthorized times and seasons. Master Robert s 
most noticeable failings were caused by alacrity in tearing 
his clothes, and obtuseness in learning the Multiplication 
Table. The virtues of all three were of much the same nat 
ure they were well grown, they were genuine children, and 
they were boisterously fond of Miss Sturch. 

To complete the gallery of family portraits, an outline, at 
the least, must be attempted of the vicar himself. Doctor 
Chennery was, in a physical point of view, a credit to the 
Establishment to which he was attached. He stood six feet 
two in his shooting-shoes ; he weighed fifteen stone ; he was 



THE DEAD SECRET. 41 

the best bowler in the Long Beckley cricket-club ; he was a 
strictly orthodox man in the matter of wine and mutton ; he 
never started disagreeable theories about people s future des 
tinies in the pulpit, never quarreled with any body out of the 
pulpit, never buttoned up his pockets when the necessities 
of his poor brethren (Dissenters included) pleaded with him 
to open them. His course through the world was a steady 
march along the high and dry middle of a safe turnpike-road. 
The serpentine side-paths of controversy might open as allur 
ingly as they pleased on his right hand and on his left, but 
he kept on his way sturdily, and never regarded them. In 
novating young recruits in the Church army might entrap- 
pingly open the Thirty-nine Articles under his very nose, but 
the veteran s wary eye never looked a hair s-breadth further 
than his own signature at the bottom of them. He knew as 
little as possible of theology, he had never given the Privy 
Council a minute s trouble in the whole course of his life, he 
was innocent of all meddling with the reading or writing of 
pamphlets, and he was quite incapable of finding his way to 
the platform of Exeter Hall. In short, he was the most un- 
clerical of clergymen but, for all that, he had such a figure 
for a surplice as is seldom seen. Fifteen stone weight of up 
right muscular flesh, without an angry spot or sore place in 
any part of it, has the merit of suggesting stability, at any 
rate an excellent virtue in pillars of all kinds, but an espe 
cially precious quality, at the present time, in a pillar of the 
Church. 

As soon as the vicar entered the breakfast-parlor, the chil 
dren assailed him with a chorus of shouts. He was a severe 
disciplinarian in the observance of punctuality at meal-times; 
and he now stood convicted by the clock of being too late 
for breakfast by a quarter of an hour. 

" Sorry to have kept you waiting, Miss Sturch," said the 
vicar ; " but I have a good excuse for being late this morning." 

"Pray don t mention it, Sir," said Miss Sturch, blandly 
rubbing her plump little hands one over the other. " A beau 
tiful morning. I fear we shall have another warm day. Rob 
ert, my love, your elbow is on the table. A beautiful morn 
ing, indeed !" 

"Stomach still out of order eh, Phippen?" asked the vic 
ar, beginning to carve the ham. 



42 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Mr. Phippen shook his large head dolefully, placed his yel 
low forefinger, ornamented with a large turquoise ring, on the 
centre check of his light -green summer waistcoat looked 
piteously at Doctor Chennery, and sighed removed the fin 
ger, and produced from the breast pocket of his wrapper a lit 
tle mahogany case took out of it a neat pair of apothecary s 
scales, with the accompanying weights, a morsel of ginger, 
and a highly polished silver nutmeg-grater. "Dear Miss 
Sturch will pardon an invalid ?" said Mr. Phippen, beginning 
to grate the ginger feebly into the nearest tea-cup. 

" Guess what has made me a quarter of an hour late this 
morning," said the vicar, looking mysteriously all round the 
table. 

"Lying in bed, papa," cried the three children, clapping 
their hands in triumph. 

" What do you say, Miss Sturch ?" asked Doctor Chennery. 

Miss Sturch smiled as usual, rubbed her hands as usual, 
cleared her throat softly as usual, looked at the tea-urn, and 
begged, with the most graceful politeness, to be excused if 
she said nothing. 

"Your turn now, Phippen," said the vicar. " Come, guess 
what has kept me late this morning." 

" My dear friend," said Mr. Phippen, giving the Doctor a 
brotherly squeeze of the hand, " don t ask me to guess I 
know ! I saw what you eat at dinner yesterday I saw what 
you drank after dinner. No digestion could stand it not 
even yours. Guess what has made you late this morning? 
Pooh ! pooh ! I know. You dear, good soul, you have been 
taking physic !" 

"Hav n t touched a drop, thank God, for the last ten 
years!" said Doctor Chennery, with a look of devout grati 
tude. " No, no ; you re all wrong. The fact is, I have been 
to church ; and what do you think I have been doing there? 
Listen, Miss Sturch listen, girls, with all your ears. Poor 
blind young Frankland is a happy man at last I have mar 
ried him to our dear Rosamond Treverton this very morn 



ing !" 



" Without telling us, papa !" cried the two girls together 
in their shrillest tones of vexation and surprise. " Without 
telling us, when you know how we should have liked to see 
it!" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 43 

"That was the very reason why I did not tell you, my 
dears," answered the vicar. " Young Frankland has not got 
so used to his affliction yet, poor fellow, as to bear being 
publicly pitied and stared at in the character of a blind 
bridegroom. He had such a nervous horror of being an 
object of curiosity on his wedding-day, and Rosamond, like 
a kind-hearted girl as she is, was so anxious that his slightest 
caprices should be humored, that we settled to have the 
wedding at an hour in the morning when no idlers were 
likely to be lounging about the neighborhood of the church. 
I \yas bound over to the strictest secrecy about the day, and 
so was my clerk Thomas. Excepting us two, and the bride 
and bridegroom, and the bride s father, Captain Treverton, 
nobody knew " 

"Treverton !" exclaimed Mr. Phippen, holding his tea-cup, 
with the grated ginger in the bottom of it, to be filled by 
Miss Sturch. " Treverton! (No more tea, dear Miss Sturch.) 
How very remarkable ! I know the name. (Fill up with 
water, if you please.) Tell me, my dear doctor (many, many 
thanks ; no sugar it turns acid on the stomach), is this Miss 
Treverton whom you have been marrying (many thanks 
again ; no milk, either) one of the Cornish Trevertons ?" 

"To be sure she is!" rejoined the vicar. "Her father, 
Captain Treverton, is the head of the family. Not that 
there s much family to speak of now. The Captain, and 
Rosamond, and that whimsical old brute of an uncle of hers, 
Andrew Treverton, are the last left now of the, old stock a 
rich family, and a fine family, in former times good friends 
to Church and State, you know, and all that " 

" Do you approve, Sir, of Amelia having a second helping 
of bread and marmalade?" asked Miss Sturch, appealing to 
Doctor Chennery, with the most perfect unconsciousness of 
interrupting him. Having no spare room in her mind for 
putting things away in until the appropriate time came for 
bringing them out, Miss Sturch always asked questions and 
made remarks the moment they occurred to her, without 
waiting for the beginning, middle, or end of any conversa 
tions that might be proceeding in her presence. She in 
variably looked the part of a listener to perfection, but she 
never acted it except in the case of talk that was aimed 
point-blank at her own ears. 



44 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Oh, give her a second helping, by all means !" said the 
vicar, carelessly ; " if she must over-eat herself, she may as 
well do it on bread and marmalade as on any thing else." 

" My dear, good soul," exclaimed Mr. Phippen, " look what 
a wreck I am, and don t talk in that shockingly thoughtless 
way of letting our sweet Amelia over-eat herself. Load the 
stomach in youth, and what becomes of the digestion in age? 
The thing which vulgar people call the inside I appeal to 
Miss Sturch s interest in her charming pupil as an excuse for 
going into physiological particulars is, in point of fact, an 
Apparatus. Digestively considered, Miss Sturch, even the 
fairest and youngest of us is an Apparatus. Oil our wheels, 
if you like ; but clog them at your peril. Farinaceous pud 
dings and mutton-chops ; mutton-chops and farinaceous pud 
dings those should be the parents watch-words, if I had my 
way, from one end of England to the other. Look here, my 
sweet child look at me. There is no fun, dear, about these 
little scales, but dreadful earnest. See ! I put in the balance 
on one side dry bread (stale, dry bread, Amelia !), and on the 
other some ounce weights. Mr. Phippen, eat by weight. 
Mr. Phippen ! eat the same quantity, day by day, to a hair s- 
breadth. Mr. Phippen ! exceed your allowance (though it is 
only stale, dry bread) if you dare ! Amelia, love, this is not 
fun this is what the doctors tell me the doctors, my child, 
who have been searching my Apparatus through and through 
for thirty years past with little pills, and have not found out 
where my wheels are clogged yet. Think of that, Amelia 
think of Mr. Phippen s clogged Apparatus and say * No, 
thank you, next time. Miss Sturch, I beg a thousand par 
dons for intruding on your province ; but my interest in that 
sweet child Chennery, you dear, good soul, what were we 
talking about? Ah! the bride the interesting bride ! And 
so she is one of the Cornish Trevertons? I knew something 
of Andrew years ago. He was a bachelor, like myself, Miss 
Sturch. His Apparatus was out of order, like mine, dear 
Amelia. Not at all like his brother, the Captain, I should 
suppose? And so she is married? A charming girl, I have 
no doubt. A charming girl !" 

"No better, truer, prettier girl in the world," said the 
vicar. 

" A very lively, energetic person," remarked Miss Sturch. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 45 

"How I shall miss her!" cried Miss Louisa. "Nobody 
else amused me as Rosamond did, when I was laid up with 
that last bad cold of mine." 

" She used to give us such nice little early supper-parties," 
said Miss Amelia. 

" She was the only girl I ever saw who was fit to play 
with boys," said Master Robert. " She could catch a ball, 
Mr. Phippen, Sir, with one hand, and go down a slide with 
both her legs together." 

" Bless me !" said Mr. Phippen. " What an extraordinary 
wife for a blind man ! You said he was blind from his birth, 
my dear doctor, did you not? Let me see, what was his name? 
You will not bear too hardly on my loss of memory, Miss 
Sturch? When indigestion has done with the body, it begins 
to prey on the mind. Mr. Frank Something, was it not ?" 

"No, no Frankland," answered the vicar, "Leonard Frank- 
land. And not blind from his birth by any means. It is not 
much more than a year ago since he could see almost as well 
as any of us." 

" An accident, I suppose !" said Mr. Phippen. " You will 
excuse me if I take the arm-chair? a partially reclining 
posture is of great assistance to me after meals. So an ac 
cident happened to his eyes ? Ah, what a delightfully easy 
chair to sit in !" 

" Scarcely an accident," said Doctor Chennery. " Leonard 
Frankland was a difficult child to bring up : great constitu 
tional weakness, you know, at first. He seemed to get over 
that with time, and grew into a quiet, sedate, orderly sort 
of boy as unlike my son there as possible very amiable, 
and what you call easy to deal with. Well, he had a turn 
for mechanics (I am telling you all this to make you under 
stand about his blindness), and, after veering from one occu 
pation of that sort to another, he took at last to watch-making. 
Curious amusement for a boy ; but any thing that required 
delicacy of touch, and plenty of patience and perseverance, 
was just the thing to amuse and occupy Leonard. I alwa} 7 s 
said to his father and mother, Get him off that stool, break 
his inagnifying-glasses, send him to me, and I ll give him a 
back at leap-frog, and teach him the use of a bat. But it 
was no use. His parents knew best, I suppose, and they 
said he must be humored. Well, things went on smoothly 

C 



46 THE DEAD SECRET. 

euough for some time, till he got another long illness as I 
believe, from not taking exercise enough. As soon as he be 
gan to get round, back he went to his old watch-making oc 
cupations again. But the bad end of it all was coming. 
About the last work he did, poor fellow, was the repairing of 
my watch here it is; goes as regular as a steam-engine. 
I hadn t got it back into my fob very long before I heard 
that he was getting a bad pain at the back of his head, and 
that he saw all sorts of moving spots before his eyes. String 
him up with lots of port wine, and give him three hours a 
day on the back of a quiet pony that was my advice. In 
stead of taking it, they sent for doctors from London, and 
blistered him behind the ears and between the shoulders, 
and drenched the lad with mercury, and moped him up in 
a dark room. No use. The sight got worse and worse, 
flickered and flickered, and went out at last like the flame 
of a candle. His mother died luckily for her, poor soul 
before that happened. His father was half out of his mind : 
took him to oculists in London and oculists in Paris. All 
they did was to call the blindness by a long Latin name, 
and to say that it was hopeless and useless to try an opera 
tion. Some of them said it was the result of the long weak 
nesses from which he had twice suffered after illness. Some 
said it was an apoplectic effusion in his brain. All of them 
shook their heads when they heard of the watch-making. So 
they brought him back home, blind ; blind he is now ; and 
blind he will remain, poor dear fellow, for the rest of his 
life." 

" You shock me ; my dear Chennery, you shock me dread 
fully," said Mr. Phippen. " Especially when you state that 
theory about long weakness after illness. Good Heavens ! 
Why, I have had long weaknesses I have got them now. 
Spots did he see before his eyes ? I see spots, black spots, 
dancing black spots, dancing black bilious spots. L T pon my 
word of honor, Chennery, this comes home to me my sym 
pathies are painfully acute I feel this blind story in every 
nerve of my body ; I do, indeed !" 

" You would hardly know that Leonard was blind, to look 
at him," said Miss Louisa,, striking into the conversation with 
a view to restoring Mr. Phippen s equanimity. " Except 
that his eyes look quieter than other people s, there seems 



THE DEAD SECRET. 47 

no difference in them now. Who was that famous character 
you told us about, Miss Sturch, who was blind, and didn t 
show it any more than Leonard Frankland ?" 

"Milton, my love. I begged you to remember that he 
was the most famous of British epic poets," answered Miss 
Sturch with suavity. "He poetically describes his blindness 
as being caused by so thick a drop serene. You shall read 
about it, Louisa. After we have had a little French, we will 
have a little Milton, this morningi Hush, love, your papa is 
speaking." 

" Poor young Frankland !" said the vicar, warmly. " That 
good, tender, noble creature I married him to this morning 
seems sent as a consolation to him in his affliction. If ^ny 
human being can make him happy for the rest of his life, Ros 
amond Treverton is the girl to do it." 

"She has made a sacrifice," said Mr. Phippen; " but I like 
her for that, having made a sacrifice myself in remaining sin 
gle. It seems indispensable, indeed, on the score of human 
ity, that I should do so. How could I conscientiously inflict 
such a digestion as mine on a member of the fairer portion 
of creation ? No ; I am a sacrifice in my own proper person, 
and I have a fellow-feeling for others who are like me. Did 
she cry much, Chennery, when you were marrying her?" 

"Cry!" exclaimed the vicar, contemptuously. "Rosamond 
Treverton is not one of the puling, sentimental sort, I can tell 
you. A fine, buxom, warm-hearted, quick-tempered girl, who 
looks what she means when she tells a man she is going 
to marry him. And, mind you, she has been tried. If she 
hadn t loved him with all her heart and soul, she might have 
been free months ago to marry any body she pleased. They 
were engaged long before this cruel affliction befell young 
Frankland the fathers, on both sides, having lived as near 
neighbors in these parts for years. Well, when the blind 
ness came, Leonard at once offered to release Rosamond from 
her engagement. You should have read the letter she wrote 
to him, Phippen, upon that. I don t mind confessing that I 
blubbered like a baby over it when they showed it to me. I 
should have married them at once the instant I read it, but 
old Frankland was a fidgety, punctilious kind of man, and he 
insisted on a six months probation, so that she might be cer 
tain of knowing her own ruind. He died before the term was 



48 THE DEAD SECRET. 

out, and that caused the marriage to be put off again. But 
no delays could alter Rosamond six years, instead of six 
months, would not have changed her. There she was this 
morning as fond of that poor, patient blind fellow as she was 
the first day they were engaged. You shall never know a sad 
moment, Lenny, if I can help it, as long as you live these 
were the first words she said to him when we all came out 
of church. I hear you, Rosamond, said I. * And you shall 
judge me, too, Doctor, says she, quick as lightning. We 
will come back to Long Beckley, and you shall ask Lenny if 
I have not kept my word. With that she gave me a kiss 
that you might have heard down here at the vicarage, bless 
her heart ! We ll drink her health after dinner, Miss Sturch 
we ll drink both their healths, Phippen, in a bottle of the 
best wine I have in my cellar." 

" In a glass of toast-and-water, so far as I am concerned, 
if you will allow me," said Mr. Phippen, mournfully. " But, 
my dear Chennery, when you were talking of the fathers of 
these two interesting young people, you spoke of their living 
as near neighbors here, at Long Beckley. My memory is 
impaired, as I am painfully aware; but I thought Captain 
Treverton was the eldest of the two brothers, and that he al 
ways lived, when he was on shore, at the family place in 
Cornwall?" 

" So he did," returned the vicar, " in his wife s lifetime. 
But since her death, which happened as long ago as the year 
twenty -nine let me see, we are now in the year forty-four 
and that makes " 

The vicar stopped for an instant to calculate, and looked at 
Miss Sturch. 

" Fifteen years ago, Sir," said Miss Sturch, offering the ac 
commodation of a little simple subtraction to the vicar, with 
her blandest smile. 

" Of course," continued Doctor Chennery. " Well, since 
Mrs. Treverton died, fifteen years ago, Captain Treverton has 
never been near Porthgenna Tower. And, what is more, 
Phippen, at the first opportunity he could get, he sold the 
place sold it, out and out, mine, fisheries, and all for forty 
thousand pounds." 

" You don t say so !" exclaimed Mr. Phippen. " Did he 
find the air unhealthy ? I should think the local produce, in 



THE DEAD SECRET. 49 

the way of food, must be coarse now, in those barbarous re 
gions ? Who bought the place ?" 

" Leonard Frankland s father," said the vicar. " It is rath 
er a long story, that sale of Porthgenna Tower, with some 
curious circumstances involved in it. Suppose we take a turn 
in the garden, Phippen ? I ll tell you all about it over my 
morning cigar. Miss Sturch, if you want me, I shall be on 
the lawn somewhere. Girls ! mind you know your lessons. 
Bob ! remember that I ve got a cane in the hall, and a birch- 
rod in my dressing-room. Come, Phippen, rouse up out of 
that arm-chair. You won t say No to a turn in the gar 
den ?" 

" My dear fellow, I will say Yes if you will kindly lend 
me an umbrella, and allow me to carry my camp-stool in my 
hand," said Mr. Phippen. "I am too weak to encounter the 
sun, and I can t go far without sitting down. The moment I 
feel fatigued, Miss Sturch, I open my camp-stool, and sit down 
any -where, without the slightest regard for appearances. I 
am ready, Chennery, whenever you are equally ready, my 
good friend, for the garden and the story about the sale of 
Porthgenna Tower. You said it w r as a curious story, did you 
not ?" 

" I said there was some curious circumstances connected 
with it," replied the vicar. " And when you hear about them, 
I think you will say so too. Come along ! you will find your 
camp-stool, and a choice of all the umbrellas in the house, in 
the hall." 

With those words, Doctor Chennery opened his cigar-case, 
and led the way out of the breakfast-parlor. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE SALE OF POETHGENNA TOWER. 

"How charming! how pastoral! how exquisitely sooth 
ing !" said Mr. Phippen, sentimentally surveying the lawn at 
the back of the vicarage -house, under the shadow of the 
lightest umbrella he could pick out of the hall. " Three 
years have passed, Chennery, since I last stood on this lawn. 
There is the window of your old study, where I had my at 
tack of heart-burn last time in the strawberry season ; don t 



50 THE DEAD SECKET. 

you remember ? All ! and there is the school-room ! Shall I 
ever forget dear Miss Sturch coming to me out of that room 
a ministering angel with soda and ginger so comfort 
ing, so sweetly anxious about stirring it up, so unaffectedly 
grieved that there was no sal-volatile in the house! I do 
so enjoy these pleasant recollections, Chennery; they are as 
great a luxury to me as your cigar is to you. Could you 
walk on the other side, my dear fellow ? I like the smell, but 
the smoke is a little too much for me. Thank you. And 
now about the story? What was the name of the old place 
I am so interested in it it began with a P, surely?" 

"Porthgenna Tower," said the vicar. 

"Exactly," rejoined Mr. Phippen, shifting the umbrella 
tenderly from one shoulder to the other. " And what in the 
world made Captain Treverton sell Porthgenna Tower?" 

"I believe the reason was that he could not endure the 
place after the death of his wife," answered Doctor Chennery. 
"The estate, you know, has never been entailed; so the Cap 
tain had no difficulty in parting with it, except, of course, the 
difficulty of rinding a purchaser." 

"Why not his brother?" asked Mr. Phippen. "Why not 
our eccentric friend, Andrew Treverton?" 

"Don t call him my friend," said the vicar. "A mean, 
groveling, cynical, selfish old wretch ! It s no use shaking 
your head, Phippen, and trying to look shocked. I know An 
drew Treverton s early history as well as you do. I know 
that he was treated with the basest ingratitude by a college 
friend, who took all he had to give, and swindled him at last 
in the grossest manner. I know all about that. But one in 
stance of ingratitude does not justify a man in shutting him 
self up from society, and railing against all mankind as a dis 
grace to the earth they walk on. I myself have heard the 
old brute say that the greatest benefactor to our generation 
would be a second Herod, who could prevent another gene 
ration from succeeding it. Ought a man who can talk in 
that way to be the friend of any human being with the 
slightest respect for his species or himself?" 

" My friend !" said Mr. Phippen, catching the vicar by the 
arm, and mysteriously lowering his voice " My dear and rev 
erend friend ! I admire your honest indignation against the 
uttcrer of that exceedingly misanthropical sentiment; but 



THE DEAD SECRET. 51 

I confide this to you, Chcnncry, in the strictest secrecy there 
are moments morning moments generally when my diges 
tion is in such a state that I have actually agreed with that 
annihilating person, Andrew Treverton ! I have woke up 
with my tongue like a cinder I have crawled to the glass 
and looked at it and I have said to myself, Let there be an 
end of the human race rather than a continuance of this! " 

"Pooh! pooh!" cried the vicar, receiving Mr. Phippen s 
confession with a burst of irreverent laughter. " Take a glass 

O O 

of cool small beer next time your tongue is in that state, and 
you will pray for a continuance of the brewing part of the 
human race, at any rate. But let us go back to Porthgenna 
Tower, or I shall never get on with my story. When Captain 
Treverton had once made up his mind to sell the place, I have 
no doubt that, under ordinary circumstances, he would have 
thought of offering it to his brother, with a view, of course, 
to keeping the estate in the family. Andrew was rich enough 
to have bought it ; for, though he got nothing at his father s 
death but the old gentleman s rare collection of books, he in 
herited his mother s fortune, as the second son. However, as 
things were at that time (and are still, I am sorry to say), the 
Captain could make no personal offers of any kind to Andrew; 
for the two were not then, and are not now, on speaking, or 
even on writing terms. It is a shocking thing to say, but the 
worst quarrel of the kind I ever heard of is the quarrel be 
tween those two brothers." 

" Pardon me, my dear friend," said Mr. Phippen, opening 
his camp-stool, which had hitherto dangled by its silken tassel 
from the hooked handle of the umbrella. " May I sit down 
before you go any further? I am getting a little excited 
about this part of the story, and I dare not fatigue myself. 
Pray go on. I don t think the legs of my camp-stool will 
make holes in the lawn. I am so light a mere skeleton, in 
fact. Do go on !" 

" You must have heard," pursued the vicar, "that Captain 
Treverton, when he was advanced in life, married an actress 
rather a violent temper, I believe ; but a person of spotless 
character, and as fond of her husband as a woman could be ; 
therefore, according to my view of it, a very good wife for 
him to marry. However, the Captain s friends, of course, 
made the usual senseless outcry, and the Captain s brother, 



52 THE DEAD SECRET. 

as the only near relation, took it on himself to attempt break 
ing off the marriage in the most offensively indelicate way. 
Failing in that, and hating the poor woman like poison, he 
left his brother s house, saying, among many other savage 
speeches, one infamous thing about the bride, which which, 
upon my honor, Phippen, I am ashamed to repeat. What 
ever the words were, they were unluckily carried to Mrs. 
Treverton s ears, and they were of the kind that no woman 
let alone a quick-tempered woman like the Captain s wife 
ever forgives. An interview followed between the two broth 
ers and it led, as you may easily imagine, to very unhappy 
results. They parted in the most deplorable manner. The 
Captain declared, in the heat of his passion, that Andrew 
had never had one generous impulse in his heart since he 
was born, and that he would die without one kind feeling 
toward any living soul in the world. Andrew replied that, 
if he had no heart, he had a memory, and that he should re 
member those farewell words as long as he lived. So they 
separated. Twice afterward the Captain made overtures of 
reconciliation. The first time when his daughter Rosamond 
was born ; the second time when Mrs. Treverton died. On 
each occasion the elder brother wrote to say that, if the 
younger would retract the atrocious words he had spoken 
against his sister-in-law, every atonement should be offered 
to him for the harsh language which the Captain had used, 
in the hastiness of anger, when they last met. No answer 
was received from Andrew to either letter; and the estrange 
ment between the two brothers has continued to the present 
time. You understand now why Captain Treverton could 
not privately consult Andrew s inclinations before he pub 
licly announced his intention of parting with Porthgenna 
Tower." 

Although Mr. Phippen declared, in answer to this appeal, 
that he understood perfectly, and although he begged with 
the utmost politeness that the vicar would go on, his atten 
tion seemed, for the moment, to be entirely absorbed in in 
specting the legs of his camp-stool, and in ascertaining what 
impression they made on the vicarage lawn. Doctor Chen- 
nery s own interest, however, in the circumstances that he 
was relating, seemed sufficiently strong to make up for any 
transient lapse of attention on the part of his guest. After a 



THE DEAD SECRET. 53 

few vigorous puffs at his cigar (which had been several times 
in imminent danger of going out while he was speaking), he 
went on with his narrative in these words : 

" Well, the house, the estate, the mine, and the fisheries of 
Porthgenna were all publicly put up for sale a few months 
after Mrs. Treverton s death; but no offers were made for 
the property which it was possible to accept. The ruinous 
state of the house, the bad cultivation of the land, legal diffi 
culties in connection with the mine, and quarter-day difficul 
ties in the collection of the rents, all contributed to make 
Porthgenna what the auctioneers would call a bad lot to dis 
pose of. Failing to sell the place, Captain Treverton could 
not be prevailed on to change his mind and live there again. 
The death of his wife almost broke his heart for he was, by 
all accounts, just as fond of her as she had been of him and 
the very sight of the place that was associated with the 
greatest affliction of his life became hateful to him. lie re 
moved, with his little girl and a relative of Mrs. Treverton, 
who was her governess, to our neighborhood, and rented a 
pretty little cottage across the church fields. The house 
nearest to it was inhabited at that time by Leonard Frank- 
land s father and mother. The new neighbors soon became 
intimate ; and thus it happened that the couple whom I have 
been marrying this morning were brought up together as 
children, and fell in love with each other almost before they 
were out of their pinafores." 

" Chennery, my dear fellow, I don t look as if I was sitting 
all on one side, do I ?" cried Mr. Phippen, suddenly breaking 
into the vicar s narrative, with a look of alarm. " I am 
shocked to interrupt you ; but surely your grass is amazing 
ly soft in this part of the country. One of my camp-stool 
legs is getting shorter and shorter every moment. I m drill 
ing a hole ! I m toppling over! Gracious Heavens ! I feel 
myself going I shall be down, Chennery; upon my life, I 
shall be down !" 

"Stuff!" cried the vicar, pulling up first Mr. Phippen, and 
then Mr. Phippen s camp-stool, which had rooted itself in the 
grass, all on one side. " Here, come on to the gravel walk ; 
you can t drill holes in that. What s the matter now?" 

"Palpitations," said Mr. Phippen, dropping his umbrella, 
and placing his hand over his heart, " and bile. I see those 

C2 



54 THE DEAD SECRET. 

black spots again those infernal, lively black spots dancing 
before ray eyes. Chennery, suppose you consult some agri 
cultural friend about the quality of your grass. Take my 
word for it, your lawn is softer than it ought to be. Lawn !" 
repeated Mr. Phippen to himself, contemptuously, as he turn 
ed round to pick up his umbrella. " It isn t a lawn it is a 
bog!" 

"There, sit down," said the vicar, "and don t pay the pal 
pitations and the black spots the compliment of bestowing 
the smallest attention on them. Do you want any thing to 
drink? Shall it be physic, or beer, or what?" 

" No, no ! I am so unwilling to give trouble," answered 
Mr. Phippen. " I would rather suffer rather, a great deal. 
I think if you would go on with your story, Chennery, it 
would compose me. I have not the faintest idea of what led 
to it, but I think you were saying something interesting on 
the subject of pinafores !" 

"Nonsense!" said Doctor Chennery. "I was only telling 
you of the fondness between the two children who have now 
grown up to be man and wife. And I was going on to tell 
you that Captain Treverton, shortly after he settled in our 
neighborhood, took to the active practice of his profession 
again. Nothing else seemed to fill up the gap that the loss 
of Mrs. Treverton had made in his life. Having good inter 
est with the Admiralty, he can always get a ship when he 
applies for one; and up to the present time, with intervals 
on shore, he has resolutely stuck to the sea though he is 
getting, as his daughter and his friends think, rather too old 
for it now. Don t look puzzled, Phippen : I am not going so 
wide of the mark as you think. These are some of the neces 
sary particulars that must be stated first. And now they 
are comfortably disposed of, I can get round at last to the 
main part of my story the sale of Porthgenna Tower. 
What is it now ? Do you want to get up again ?" 

Yes, Mr. Phippen did want to get up again, for the purpose 
of composing the palpitations and dispersing the black spots, 
by trying the experiment of a little gentle exercise. He was 
most unwilling to occasion any trouble, but would his worthy 
friend Chennery give him an arm, and carry the camp-stool, 
and walk slowly in the direction of the school-room window, 
so as to keep Miss Sturch within easy hailing distance, in 



THE DEAD SECRET. 55 

case it became necessary to try the last resource of taking 
a composing draught? The vicar, whose inexhaustible 
good nature was proof against every trial that Mr. Phip- 
pen s dyspeptic infirmities could inflict on it, complied 
with all these requests, and went on with his story, un 
consciously adopting the tone and manner of a good-humored 
parent who was doing his best to soothe the temper of a fret 
ful child. 

"I told you," he said, "that the elder Mr. Frankland and 
Captain Treverton were near neighbors here. They had not 
been long acquainted before the one found out from the other 
that Porthgenna Tower was for sale. On first hearing this, 
old Frankland asked a few questions about the place, but 
said not a word on the subject of purchasing it. Soon after 
that the Captain got a ship and went to sea. During his 
absence old Frankland privately set oiF for Cornwall to look 
at the estate, and to find out all he could about its advan 
tages and defects from the persons left in charge of the house 
and lands. He said nothing when he came back, until Cap 
tain Treverton returned from his first cruise ; and then the 
old gentleman spoke out one morning, in his quiet, decided 
way. 

" Treverton, said he, c if you w T ill sell Porthgenna Tower 
at the price at which you bought it in, when you tried to 
dispose of it by auction, write to your lawyer, and tell him 
to take the title-deeds to mine, and ask for the purchase- 
money. 

" Captain Treverton w r as naturally a little astonished at 
the readiness of this offer; but people like myself, who knew 
old Frankland s history, were not so surprised. His fortune 
had been made by trade, and he was foolish enough to be al 
ways a little ashamed of acknowledging that one simple and 
creditable fact. The truth was, that his ancestors had been 
landed gentry of importance before the time of the Civil 
War, and the old gentleman s great ambition was to sink the 
merchant in the landed grandee, and to leave his son to suc 
ceed him in the character of a squire of large estate and 
great county influence. He was willing to devote half his 
fortune to accomplish this scheme ; but half his fortune 
would not buy him such an estate as he wanted, in an im 
portant agricultural county like ours. Rents are high, and 



56 THE DEAD SECRET. 

land is made the most of with us. An estate as extensive as 
the estate at Porthgenna would fetch more than double the 
money which Captain Treverton could venture to ask for it, 
if it was situated in these parts. Old Frankland was well 
aware of that fact, and attached all possible importance to 
it. Besides, there was something in the feudal look of Porth 
genna Tower, and in the right over the mine and fisheries, 
which the purchase of the estate included, that flattered his 
notions of restoring the family greatness. Here he and his 
son after him could lord it, as he thought, on a large scale, 
and direct at their sovereign will and pleasure the industry 
of hundreds of poor people, scattered along the coast, or hud 
dled together in the little villages inland. This was a tempt 
ing prospect, and it could be secured for forty thousand 
pounds which was just ten thousand pounds less than he 
had made up his mind to give, when he first determined to 
metamorphose himself from a plain merchant into a magnifi 
cent landed gentleman. People who knew these facts were, 
as I have said, not much surprised at Mr. Frankland s readi 
ness to purchase Porthgenna Tower ; and Captain Treverton, 
it is hardly necessary to say, was not long in clinching the 
bargain on his side. The estate changed hands; and away 
went old Frankland, with a tail of wiseacres from London at 
his heels, to work the mine and the fisheries on new scien 
tific principles, and to beautify the old house from top to 
bottom with bran-new mediaeval decorations under the direc 
tion of a gentleman who was said to be an architect, but 
who looked, to my mind, the very image of a Popish priest 
in disguise. Wonderful plans and projects were they not? 
And how do you think they succeeded ?" 

" Do tell me, my dear fellow !" was the answer that fell 
from Mr. Phippen s lips. " I wonder whether Miss Sturch 
keeps a bottle of camphor julep in the family medicine-chest?" 
was the thought that passed through Mr. Phippen s mind. 

" Tell you !" exclaimed the vicar. " Why, of course, every 
one of his plans turned out a complete failure. His Cornish 
tenantry received him as an interloper. The antiquity of 
his family made no impression upon them. It might be an 
old family, but it was not a Cornish family, and, therefore, it 
was of no importance in their eyes. They would have gone 
to the world s end for the Trevertons; but not a man would 



THE DEAD SECRET. 57 

move a step out of his way for the Franklands. As for the 
mine, it seemed to be inspired with the same mutinous spirit 
that possessed the tenantry. The wiseacres from London 
blasted in all directions on the profoundest scientific princi 
ples, and brought about sixpennyworth of ore to the surface 
for every five pounds spent in getting it up. The fisheries 
turned out little better. A new plan for curing pilchards, 
which was a marvel of economy in theory, proved to be a 
perfect phenomenon of extravagance in practice. The only 
item of luck in old Frankland s large sum of misfortunes was 
produced by his quarreling in good time with the mediaeval 
architect, who was like a Popish priest in disguise. This for 
tunate event saved the new owner of Porthgenna all the 
money he might otherwise have spent in restoring and re 
decorating the whole suite of rooms on the north side of the 
house, which had been left to go to rack and ruin for more 
than fifty years past, and which remain in their old neglected 
condition to this day. To make a long story short, after use 
lessly spending more thousands of pounds at Porthgenna than 
I should like to reckon up, old Frankland gave in at last, left 
the place in disgust to the care of his steward, who was 
charged never to lay out another farthing on it, and returned 
to this neighborhood. Being in high dudgeon, and happen 
ing to catch Captain Treverton on shore when he got back, 
the first thing he did was to abuse Porthgenna and all the 
people about it a little too vehemently in the Captain s pres 
ence. This led to a coolness between the two neighbors, 
which might have ended in the breaking off of all intercourse, 
but for the children on either side, who would see each other 
just as often as ever, and who ended, by dint of willful per 
sistency, in putting an end to the estrangement between the 
fathers by making it look simply ridiculous. Here, in my 
opinion, lies the most curious part of the story. Important 
family interests depended on those two young people falling 
in love with each other ; and, wonderful to relate, that (as 
you know, after my confession at breakfast-time) was exact 
ly what they did. Here is a case of the most romantic love- 
match, which is also the marriage, of all others, that the par 
ents on both sides had the strongest worldly interest in pro 
moting. Shakspeare may say what he pleases, the course 
of true love does run smooth sometimes. Never was the 



58 THE DEAD SECRET. 

marriage service performed to better purpose than when I 
read it this morning. The estate being entailed on Leonard, 
Captain Treverton s daughter now goes back, in the capacity 
of mistress, to the house and lands which her father sold. 
Rosamond being an only child, the purchase-money of Porth- 
genua, which old Frankland once lamented as money thrown 
away, will now, when the Captain dies, be the marriage-por 
tion of young Frankland s wife. I don t know w r hat you 
think of the beginning and middle of my story, Phippen, but 
the end ought to satisfy you, at any rate. Did you ever hear 
of a bride and bridegroom who started with fairer prospects 
in life than our bride and bridegroom of to-day ?" 

Before Mr. Phippen could make any reply, Miss Sturch put 
her head out of the school-room window ; and seeing the two 
gentlemen approaching, beamed on them with her invariable 
smile. Then addressing the vicar, said in her softest tones : 

" I regret extremely to trouble you, Sir, but I find Rob 
ert very intractable this morning with his Multiplication 
Table." 

" Where does he stick now ?" asked Doctor Chennery. 

" At seven times eight, Sir," replied Miss Sturch. 

" Bob !" shouted the vicar through the window. " Seven 
times eight?" 

"Forty-three," answered the whimpering voice of the in 
visible Bob. 

"You shall have one more chance before I get my cane," said 
Doctor Chennery. " Now, then, look out ! Seven times" 

"My dear, good friend," interposed Mr. Phippen, "if you 
cane that very unhappy boy he will scream. My nerves 
have been tried once this morning by the camp-stool. I shall 
be totally shattered if I hear screams. Give me time to get 
out of the way, and allow me also to spare dear Miss Sturch 
the sad spectacle of correction (so shocking to sensibilities 
like hers) by asking her for a little camphor julep, and so 
giving her an excuse for getting out of the way like me. I 
think I could have done without the camphor julep under 
any other circumstances; but I ask for it unhesitatingly now, 
as much for Miss Sturch s sake as for the sake of my own 
poor nerves. Have you got camphor julep, Miss Sturch? 
Say yes, I beg and entreat, and give me an opportunity of es 
corting you out of the way of the screams." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 59 

While Miss Sturch whose well-trained sensibilities were 
proof against the longest paternal caning and the loudest filial 
acknowledgment of it in the way of screams tripped up 
stairs to fetch the camphor julep, as smiling and self-possessed 
as ever, Master Bob, rinding himself left alone with his sisters 
in the school-room, sidled up to the youngest of the two, pro 
duced from the pocket of his trowsers three frowsy acidulated 
drops looking very much the worse for wear, and, attacking 
Miss Amelia on the weak, or greedy side of her character, art 
fully offered the drops in exchange for information on the 
subject of seven times eight. "You like em?" whispered Bob. 
" Oh, don t I !" answered Amelia. " Seven times eight ?" 
asked Bob. "Fifty-six," answered Amelia. "Sure?" said 
Bob. " Certain," said Amelia. The drops changed hands, 
and the catastrophe of the domestic drama changed with 
them. Just as Miss Sturch appeared with the camphor julep 
at the garden door, in the character of medical Hebe to Mr. 
Phippen,her intractable pupil showed himself to his father 
at the school-room window, in the character, arithmetically 
speaking, of a reformed son. The cane reposed for the day ; 
and Mr. Phippen drank his glass of camphor julep with a 
mind at ease on the tw T in subjects of Miss Sturch s sensibili 
ties and Master Bob s screams. 

"Most gratifying in every way," said the Martyr to Dys 
pepsia, smacking his lips with great relish, as he drained the 
last drops out of the glass. "My nerves are spared, Miss 
Sturch s feelings are spared, and the dear boy s back is spared. 
You have no idea how relieved I feel, Chennery. Where 
abouts were we in that delightful story of yours when this 
little domestic interruption occurred ?" 

" At the end of it, to be sure," said the vicar. " The bride 
and bridegroom are some miles on their w r ay by this time to 
spend the honey-moon at St. Swithiu s-on-Sea. Captain Trev- 
erton is only left behind for a day. He received his sailing 
orders on Monday, and he will be off to Portsmouth to-mor 
row morning to take command of his ship. Though he won t 
admit it in plain words, I happen to know that Rosamond 
has persuaded him to make this his last cruise. She has a 
plan for getting him back to Porthgenna, to live there with 
her husband, which I hope and believe will succeed. The 
west rooms at the old house, in one of which Mrs.Treverton 



60 THE DEAD SECRET. 

died, are not to be used at all by the young married couple. 
They have engaged a builder a sensible, practical man, this 
time to survey the neglected north rooms, with a view to 
their redecoration and thorough repair in every way. This 
part of the house can not possibly be associated with any 
melancholy recollections in Captain Treverton s mind, for 
neither he nor any one else ever entered it during the period 
of his residence at Porthgenna. Considering the change in 
the look of the place which this project of repairing the north 
rooms is sure to produce, and taking into account also the 
softening effect of time on all painful recollections, I should 
say there was a fair prospect of Captain Treverton s return 
ing to pass the end of his days among his old tenantry. It 
will be a great chance for Leonard Frankland if he does, for 
he would be sure to dispose the people at Porthgenna kindly 
toward their new master. Introduced among his Cornish 
tenants under Captain Treverton s wing, Leonard is sure to 
get on well with them, provided he abstains from showing 
too much of the family pride which he has inherited from his 
father. He is a little given to overrate the advantages of 
birth and the importance of rank but that is really the only 
noticeable defect in his character. In all other respects I 
can honestly say of him that he deserves what he has got 
the best wife in the world. What a life of happiness, Phip- 
pen, seems to be awaiting these lucky young people ! It is 
a bold thing to say of any mortal creatures, but, look as far 
as I may, not a cloud can I see any where on their future 
prospects." 

"You excellent creature!" exclaimed Mr. Phippen, affec 
tionately squeezing the vicar s hand. " How I enjoy hearing 
you ! how I luxuriate in your bright view of life !" 

"And is it not the true view especially in the case of 
young Frankland and his wife ?" inquired the vicar. 

" If you ask me," said Mr. Phippen, with a mournful smile, 
and a philosophic calmness of manner, u I can only answer 
that the direction of a man s speculative views depends not 
to mince the matter on the state of his secretions. Your 
biliary secretions, dear friend, are all right, and you take 
bright views. My biliary secretions are all wrong, and I 
take dark views. You look at the future prospects of this 
young married couple, and say there is no cloud over them. 



THE DEAD SECRET. Gl 

I don t dispute the assertion, not having the pleasure of 
knowing either bride or bridegroom. But I look up at the 
sky over our heads I remember that there was not a cloud 
on it when we first entered the garden I now see, just over 
those two trees growing so close together, a cloud that has 
appeared unexpectedly from nobody knows where and I 
draw my own conclusions. Such," said Mr. Phippen, ascend 
ing the garden steps on his way into the house, "is my phi 
losophy. It may be tinged with bile, but it is philosophy for 
all that." 

"All the philosophy in the world," said the vicar, following 
his guest up the steps, " will not shake my conviction that 
Leonard Frankland and his wife have a happy future before 
them." 

Mr. Phippen laughed, and, waiting on the steps till his host 
joined him, took Doctor Chennery s arm in the friendliest 
manner. 

" You have told a charming story, Chennery," he said, 
and you have ended it with a charming sentiment. But, 
my dear friend, though your healthy mind (influenced by an 
enviably easy digestion) despises my bilious philosophy, don t 
quite forget the cloud over the two trees. Look up at it) 
now it is getting darker and bigger already." 



CHAPTER III. 

THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM. 

UNDER the roof of a widowed mother, Miss Mowlem lived 
humbly at St. Swithin s-on-Sea. In the spring of the year 
eighteen hundred and forty-four, the heart of Miss Mowlem s 
widowed mother was gladdened by a small legacy. Turning 
over in her mind the various uses to which the money might 
be put, the discreet old lady finally decided on investing it in 
furniture, on fitting up the first floor and the second floor of 
her house in the best taste, and on hanging a card in the 
parlor window to inform the public that she had furnished 
apartments to let. By the summer the apartments were 
ready, and the card was put up. It had hardly been exhib 
ited a week before a dignified personage in black applied to 
look at the rooms, expressed himself as satisfied with their 



62 THE DEAD SECRET. 

appearance, and engaged them for a month certain, for a 
newly married lady and gentleman, who might be expected 
to take possession in a few days. The dignilied personage in 
black was Captain Treverton s servant, and the lady and 
gentleman, who arrived in due time to take possession, were 
Mr. and Mrs. Frankland. 

The natural interest which Mrs. Mowlem felt in her youth 
ful first lodgers w r as necessarily vivid in its nature ; but it 
was apathy itself compared to the sentimental interest which 
her daughter took in observing the manners and customs of 
the lady and gentleman in their capacity of bride and bride 
groom. From the moment when Mr. and Mrs. Frankland 
entered the house, Miss Mowlem began to study them with 
all the ardor of an industrious scholar who attacks a new 
branch of knowledge. At every spare moment of the day, 
this industrious young lady occupied herself in stealing up 
stairs to collect observations, and in running down stairs to 
communicate them to her mother. By the time the married 
couple had been in the house a week, Miss Mowlem had mado 
such good use of her eyes, ears, and opportunities that she 
could have written a seven days diary of the lives of Mr. and 
Mrs. Frankland with the truth and minuteness of Mr. Samuel 
Pepys himself. 

But, learn as much as we may, the longer we live the more 
information there is to acquire. Seven days patient accumu 
lation of facts in connection with the honey-moon had not 
placed Miss Mowlem beyond the reach of further discoveries. 
On the morning of the eighth day, after bringing down the 
breakfast tray, this observant spinster stole up stairs again, 
according to custom, to drink at the spring of knowledge 
through the key- hole channel of the drawing-room door. 
After an absence of five minutes she descended to the kitchen, 
breathless with excitement, to announce a fresh discovery in 
connection with Mr. and Mrs. Frankland to her venerable 
mother. 

"Whatever do you think she s doing now?" cried Miss 
Mowlem, w r ith widely opened eyes and highly elevated hands. 

" Nothing that s useful," answered Mrs. Mowlem, with sar 
castic readiness. 

"She s actually sitting on his knee! Mother, did you ever 
sit on father s knee when you were married ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. G3 

" Certainly not, my dear. When me and your poor father 
married, we were neither of us flighty young people, and we 
knew better." 

"She s got her head on his shoulder," proceeded Miss 
Mowlem, more and more agitatedly, " and her arms round 
his neck both her arms, mother, as tight as can be." 

"I won t believe it," exclaimed Mrs. Mowlem, indignantly. 
"A lady like her, with riches, and accomplishments, and all 
that, demean herself like a housemaid with a sweetheart. 
Don t tell me, I won t believe it !" 

It was true though, for all that. There were plenty of 
chairs in Mrs. Mowlem s drawing-room ; there were three 
beautifully bound books on Mrs. Mowlem s Pembroke table 
(the Antiquities of St. Swithin s, Smallridge s Sermons, and 
Klopstock s Messiah in English prose) Mrs. Frankland 
might have sat on purple morocco leather, stuffed with the 
best horse-hair, might have informed and soothed her mind 
with archaeological diversions, with orthodox native theology, 
and with devotional poetry of foreign origin and yet, so 
frivolous is the nature of woman, she was perverse enough to 
prefer doing nothing, and perching herself uncomfortably on 
her husband s knee ! 

She sat for some time in the undignified position which 
Miss Mowlem had described with such graphic correctness 
to her mother then drew back a little, raised her head, and 
looked earnestly into the quiet, meditative face of the blind 
man. 

"Lenny, you are very silent this morning," she said. 
"What are you thinking about? If you will tell me all your 
thoughts, I will tell you all mine." 

"Would you really care to hear all my thoughts?" asked 
Leonard. 

"Yes; all. I shall be jealous of any thoughts that you 
keep to yourself. Tell me what you were thinking of just 
now ! Me ?" 

" Not exactly of you." 

"More shame for you. Are you tired of me in eight days? 
I have not thought of any body but you ever since we have 
been here. Ah! you laugh. Oh, Lenny, I do love you so; 
how can I think of any body but you? No! I sha n t kiss 
you. I want to know what you were thinking about first." 



04 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Of a dream, Rosamond, that I had last night. Ever since 
the first days of my blindness Why, I thought you were not 
going to kiss me again till I had told you what I was think 
ing about !" 

"I can t help kissing you, Lenny, when you talk of the loss 
of your sight. Tell me, my poor love, do I help to make up 
for that loss ? Are you happier than you used to be ? and 
have I some share in making that happiness, though it is ever 
so little ?" 

She turned her head away as she spoke, but Leonard was 
too quick for her. His inquiring fingers touched her cheek. 
" Rosamond, you are crying," he said. 

" I crying !" she answered, with a sudden assumption of 
gayety. " No," she continued, after a moment s pause. " I 
will never deceive you, love, even in the veriest trifle. My 
eyes serve for both of us now, don t they? you depend on me 
for all that your touch fails to tell you, and I must never be 
unworthy of my trust must I ? I did cry, Lenny but only 
a very little. I don t know how it was, but I never, in all 
my life, seemed to pity you and feel for you as I did just at 
that moment. Never mind, I ve done now. Go on do go 
on with what you were going to say." 

" I was going to say, Rosamond, that I have observed one 
curious thing about myself since I lost my sight. I dream a 
great deal, but I never dream of myself as a blind man. I 
often visit in my dreams places that I saw and people whom. 
I knew when I had my sight, and though I feel as much my 
self, at those visionary times, as I am now when I am wide 
awake, I never by any chance feel blind. I wander about all 
sorts of old walks in my sleep, and never grope my way. I 
talk to all sorts of old friends in my sleep, and see the ex 
pression in their faces which, waking, I shall never see again. 
I have lost my sight more than a year now, and yet it was like 
the shock of a new discovery to me to wake up last night 
from my dream, and remember suddenly that I was blind." 

" What dream was it, Lenny ?" 

" Only a dream of the place where I first met you when 
we were both children. I saw the glen, as it was years ago, 
with the great twisted roots of the trees, and the blackberry 
bushes twining about them in a still shadowed light that 
came through thick leaves from the rainy sky. I saw the 



THE DEAD SECKET. 65 

mud on the walk in the middle of the glen, with the marks 
of the cows hoofs in some places, and the sharp circles in 
others where some countrywomen had been lately trudging 
by on pattens. I saw the muddy water running down on 
either side of the path after the shower; and I saw you, 
Rosamond, a naughty girl, all covered with clay and wet 
just as you were in the reality soiling your bright blue 
pelisse and your pretty little chubby hands by making a dam 
to stop the running w r ater, and laughing at the indignation 
of your nurse-maid when she tried to pull you away and take 
you home. I saw all that exactly as it really was in the by 
gone time ; but, strangely enough, I did not see myself as 
the boy I then was. You were a little girl, and the glen was 
in its old neglected state, and yet, though I was all in the 
past so far,I was in the present as regarded myself. Through 
out the whole dream I was uneasily conscious of being a 
grown man of being, in short, exactly what I am now, ex 
cepting always that I was not blind." 

" What a memory you must have, love, to be able to recall 
all those little circumstances after the years that have pass 
ed since that wet day in the glen ! How well you recollect 
what I was as a child ! Do you remember in the same vivid 
way what I looked like a year ago when you saw me Oh, 
Lenny, it almost breaks my heart to think of it ! when you 
saw me for the last time ?" 

" Do I remember, Rosamond ! My last look at your face 
has painted your portrait in my memory in colors that can 
never change. I have many pictures in my mind, but your 
picture is the clearest and brightest of all." 

" And it is the picture of me at my best painted in my 
youth, dear, when my face was always confessing how I loved 
you, though my lips said nothing. There is some consola 
tion in that thought. When years have passed over us both, 
Lenny, and when time begins to set his mark on me, you 
will not say to yourself, My Rosamond is beginning to 
fade ; she grows less and less like what she was when I mar 
ried her. I shall never grow old, love, for you ! The bright 
young picture in your mind will still be my picture when 
my cheeks are wrinkled and my hair is gray." 

" Still your picture always the same, grow as old as I 
may." 



66 THE DEAD SECKET. 

" But are you sure it is clear in every part ? Are there no 
doubtful lines, no unfinished corners any where? I have 
not altered yet since you saw me I am just what I was a 
year ago. Suppose I ask you what I am like now, could you 
tell me without making a mistake?" 

" Try me." 

" May I ? You shall be put through a complete catechism ! 
I don t tire you sitting on your knee, do I ? Well, in the 
first place, how tall am I when we both stand up side by 
side ?" 

"You just reach to my ear." 

" Quite right, to begin with. Now for the next question. 
What does my hair look like in your portrait ?" 

"It is dark brown there is a great deal of it and it 
grows rather too low on your forehead for the taste of some 
people " 

" Never mind about some people ; does it grow too low 
for your taste ?" 

" Certainly not. I like it to grow low ; I like all those 
little natural waves that it makes against your forehead ; I 
like it taken back, as you wear it, in plain bands, which leave 
your ears and your cheeks visible ; and above all things, I 
like that big glossy knot that it makes where it is all gath 
ered up together at the back of your head." 

" Oh, Lenny, how well you remember me, so far ! Now go 
a little lower." 

" A little lower is down to your eyebrows. They are very 
nicely shaped eyebrow r s in my picture " 

"Yes, but they have a fault. Come! tell me what the 
fault is." 

" They are not quite so strongly marked as they might be." 

" Right again ! And my eyes ?" 

" Brown eyes, large eyes, wakeful eyes, that are always 
looking about them. Eyes that can be very soft at one 
time, and very bright at another. Eyes tender and clear, 
just at the present moment, but capable, on very slight 
provocation, of opening rather too widely, and looking rather 
too brilliantly resolute." 

"Mind you don t make them look so now ! What is there 
below the eyes ?" 

"A nose that is not quite big enough to be in proper pro- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 67 

portion with them. A nose that has a slight tendency to 
be" 

" Don t say the horrid English word ! Spare my feelings 
by putting it in French. Say retrousse, and skip over my 
nose as fast as possible." 

" I must stop at the mouth, then, and own that it is as near 
perfection as possible. The lips are lovely in shape, fresh in 
color, and irresistible in expression. They smile in my por 
trait, and I am sure they are smiling at me now." 

" How could they do otherwise when they are getting so 
much praise ? My vanity whispers to me that I had better 
stop the catechism here. If I talk about my complexion, I 
shall only hear that it is of the dusky sort ; and that there 
is never red enough in it except when I am walking, or con 
fused, or angry. If I ask a question about my figure, I shall 
receive the dreadful answer, You are dangerously inclined 
to be fat. If I say, How do I dress ? I shall be told, Not so 
berly enough ; you are as fond as a child of gay colors No! 
I will venture no more questions. But, vanity apart, Lenny, 
I am so glad, so proud, so happy to find that you can keep the 
image of me clearly in your mind. I shall do my best now to 
look and dress like your last remembrance of me. My love of 
loves ! I will do you credit I will try if I can t make you 
envied for your wife. You deserve a hundred thousand kisses 
for saying your catechism so well and there they are !" 

While Mrs. Frankland was conferring the reward of merit 
on her husband, the sound of a faint, small, courteously sig 
nificant cough made itself timidly audible in a corner of the 
room. Turning round instantly, with the quickness that 
characterized all her actions, Mrs. Frankland, to her horror 
and indignation, confronted Miss Mowlem standing just in 
side the door, with a letter in her hand and a blush of senti 
mental agitation on her simpering face. 

" You wretch ! how dare you come in without knocking at 
the door ?" cried Rosamond, starting to her feet with a stamp, 
and passing in an instant from the height of fondness to the 
height of indignation. 

Miss Mowlem shook guiltily before the bright, angry eyes 
that looked through and through her, turned very pale, held 
out the letter apologetically, and said in her meekest tones 
that she was very sorry. 



68 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Sorry !" exclaimed Rosamond, getting even more irri 
tated by the apology than she had been by the intrusion, 
and showing it by another stamp of the foot; "who cares 
whether you are sorry ? I don t want your sorrow I won t 
have it. I never was so insulted in my life never, you 
mean, prying, inquisitive creature !" 

"Rosamond! Rosamond! pray don t forget yourself!" in 
terposed the quiet voice of Mr. Frankland. 

" Lenny, dear, I can t help it ! That creature would drive 
a saint mad. She has been prying after us ever since we 
have been here you have, you ill-bred, indelicate woman ! 
I suspected it before I am certain of it now ! Must we 
lock our doors to keep you out? we won t lock our doors! 
Fetch the bill ! We give you warning. Mr. Frankland 
gives you warning don t yon, Lenny ? I ll pack up all your 
things, dear : she sha n t touch one of them. Go down stairs 
and make out your bill, and give your mother warning. Mr. 
Frankland says he won t have his rooms burst into, and his 
doors listened at by inquisitive women and I say so too. 
Put that letter down on the table unless you want to open 
it and read it put it down, you audacious woman, and fetch 
the bill, and tell your mother we are going to leave the house 
directly!" 

At this dreadful threat, Miss Mowlem, who was soft and 
timid, as well as curious, by nature, wrung her hands in de 
spair, and overflowed meekly in a shower of tears. 

" Oh ! good gracious Heavens above !" cried Miss Mowlem, 
addressing herself distractedly to the ceiling, " what will 
mother say! whatever will become of me now ! Oh, ma am ! 
I thought I knocked I did, indeed ! Oh, ma am ! I humbly 
beg pardon, and I ll never intrude again. Oh, ma am ! mother s 
a widow, and this is the first time we have let the lodgings, 
and the furniture s swallowed up all our money, and oh, 
ma am ! ma am ! how I shall catch it if you go !" Here 
words failed Miss Mowlem, and hysterical sobs pathetically 
supplied their place. 

" Rosamond !" said Mr. Frankland. There was an accent 
of sorrow in his voice this time, as well as an accent of re 
monstrance. Rosamond s quick ear caught the alteration in 
his tone. As she looked round at him her color changed, her 
head drooped a little, and her whole expression altered on 



THE DEAD SECRET. 69 

the instant. She stole gently to her husband s side with 
softened, saddened eyes, and put her lips caressingly close to 
his ear. 

" Lenny," she whispered, " have I made you angry with 
me?" 

" I can t be angry with you, Rosamond," was the quiet an 
swer. "I only wish, love, that you could have controlled 
yourself a little sooner." 

" I am so sorry so very, very sorry !" The fresh, soft 
lips came closer still to his ear as they whispered these peni 
tent words ; and the cunning little hand crept up trembling 
ly round his neck and began to play with his hair. " So sor 
ry, and so ashamed of myself! But it was enough to make 
almost any body angry, just at first wasn t it, dear? And 
you will forgive me won t you, Lenny? if I promise never 
to behave so badly again? Never mind that wretched 
whimpering fool at the door," said Rosamond, undergoing a 
slight relapse as she looked round at Miss Mowlem, standing 
immovably repentant against the wall, with her face buried 
in a dingy-white pocket-handkerchief. " I ll make it up with 
her; I ll stop her crying; I ll take her out of the room; I ll 
do any thing in the world that s kind to her, if you will only 
forgive me." 

"A polite word or two is all that is wanted nothing more 
than a polite word or two," said Mr.Frankland, rather coldly 
and constrainedly. 

" Don t cry any more, for goodness sake !" said Rosamond, 
walking straight up to Miss Mowlem, and pulling the dingy- 
white pocket-handkerchief away from her face without the 
least ceremony. " There ! leave off, will you ? I am very 
sorry I was in a passion though you had no business to 
come in without knocking I never meant to distress you, 
and I ll never say a hard word to you again, if you will only 
knock at the door for the future, and leave off crying now. 
Do leave off crying, you tiresome creature ! We are not go 
ing away. We don t want your mother, or the bill, or any 
thing. Here ! here s a present for you, if you ll leave off cry 
ing. Here s my neck-ribbon I saw you trying it on yester 
day afternoon, when I was lying down on the bedroom sofa, 
and you thought I was asleep. Never mind ; I m not angry 
about that. Take the ribbon take it as a peace-offering, if 

D 



70 THE DEAD SECEET. 

you won t as a present. You shall take it! No, I don t 
mean that I mean, please take it ! There, I ve pinned it on. 
And now, shake hands and be friends, and go up stairs and 
see how it looks in the glass." With these words, Mrs. 
Frankland opened the door, administered, under the pretense 
of a pat on the shoulder, a good-humored shove to the amazed 
and embarrassed Miss Mowlem, closed the door again, and 
resumed her place in a moment on her husband s knee. 

" I ve made it up with her, dear. I ve sent her away with 
my bright green ribbon, and it makes her look as yellow as 
a guinea, and as ugly as " Rosamond stopped, and looked 
anxiously into Mr. Frankland s face. " Lenny !" she said, 
sadly, putting her cheek against his, " are you angry with me 
still ?" 

"My love, I was never angry with you. I never can be." 

"I will always keep my temper down for the future, 
Lenny !" 

" I am sure you will, Rosamond. But never mind that. I 
am not thinking of your temper now." 

"Of what, then?" 

" Of the apology you made to Miss Mowlem." 

" Did I not say enough ? I ll call her back if you like I ll 
make another penitent speech I ll do any thing but kiss her. 
I really can t do that I can t kiss any body now but you." 

" My dear, dear love, how very much like a child you are 
still in some of your ways ! You said more than enough to 
Miss Mowlem far more. And if you will pardon me for 
making the remark, I think in your generosity and good-nat 
ure you a little forgot yourself with the young woman. I 
don t so much allude to your giving her the ribbon though, 
perhaps, that might have been done a little less familiarly 
but, from what I heard you say, I infer that you actually went 
the length of shaking hands with her." 

" Was that wrong ? I thought it was the kindest way of 
making it up." 

" My dear, it is an excellent way of making it up between 
equals. But consider the difference between your station in 
society and Miss Mowlem s." 

" I will try and consider it, if you wish me, love. But I 
think I take after my father, who never troubles his head 
(dear old man !) about differences of station. I can t help 



THE DEAD SECRET. 71 

liking people who are kind to me, without thinking whether 
they are above ray rank or below it ; and when I got cool, I 
must confess I felt just as vexed with myself for frightening 
and distressing that unlucky Miss Mowlem as if her station 
had been equal to mine. I will try to think as you do, Lenny ; 
but I am very much afraid that I have got, without knowing 
exactly how, to be what the newspapers call a Radical." 

" My dear Rosamond ! don t talk of yourself in that way, 
even in joke. You ought to be the last person in the world 
to confuse those distinctions in rank on which the whole well- 
being of society depends." 

" Does it really ? And yet, dear, we don t seem to have 
been created with such very wide distinctions between us. 
We have all got the same number of arms and legs ; we are 
all hungry and thirsty, and hot in the summer and cold in 
the winter ; we all laugh when we are pleased, and cry when 
we are distressed ; and, surely, we have all got very much 
the same feelings, whether we are high or whether we are 
low. I could not have loved you better, Lenny, than I do 
now if I had been a duchess, or less than I do now if I had 
been a servant-girl." 

" My love, you are not a servant-girl. And, as to what you 
say about being a duchess, let me remind you that you are 
not so much below a duchess as you seem to think. Many a 
lady of high title can not look back on such a line of ances 
tors as yours. Your father s family, Rosamond, is one of the 
oldest in England : even my father s family hardly dates back 
so far ; and we were landed gentry when many a name in the 
peerage was not heard of. It is really almost laughably ab 
surd to hear you talking of yourself as a Radical." 

" I won t talk of myself so again, Lenny only don t look 
so serious. I will be a Tory, dear, if you will give me a kiss, 
and let me sit on your knee a little longer." 

Mr. Frankland s gravity was not proof against his wife s 
change of political principles, and the conditions which she 
annexed to it. His face cleared up, and he laughed almost 
as gayly as Rosamond herself. 

" By the bye," he said, after an interval of silence had given 
him time to collect his thoughts, " did I not hear you tell 
Miss Mowlem to put a letter down on the table ? Is it a let 
ter for you or for me ?" 



72 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Ah ! I forgot all about the letter," said Rosamond, run 
ning to the table. " It is for you, Lenny and, goodness me ! 
here s the Porthgenna postmark on it." 

"It must be from the builder whom I sent down to the 
old house about the repairs. Lend me your eyes, love, and 
let us hear what he says." 

Rosamond opened the letter, drew a stool to her husband s 
feet, and, sitting down with her arms on his knees, read as 
follows : 

" To LEONARD FRANKLAND, ESQ. : 

"SiR, Agreeably to the instructions with which you fa 
vored me, I have proceeded to survey Porthgenna Tower, 
with a view to ascertaining what repairs the house in gen 
eral, and the north side of it in particular, may stand in 
need of. 

"As regards the outside, a little cleaning and new pointing 
is all that the building w r ants. The walls and foundations 
seem made to last forever. Such strong, solid work I never 
set eyes on before. 

"Inside the house,! can not report so favorably. The rooms 
in the west front, having been inhabited during the period 
of Captain Treverton s occupation, and having been well 
looked after since, are in tolerably sound condition. I should 
say two hundred pounds would cover the expense of all re 
pairs in my line which these rooms need. This sum would 
not include the restoration of the western staircase, which 
has given a little in some places, and the banisters of which 
are decidedly insecure from the first to the second landing. 
From twenty-five to thirty pounds would suffice to set this 
all right. 

" In the rooms on the north front, the state of dilapidation, 
from top to bottom, is as bad as can be. From all that I 
could ascertain, nobody ever went near these rooms in Cap 
tain Treverton s time, or has ever entered them since. The 
people who now keep the house have a superstitious dread 
of opening any of the north doors, in consequence of the time 
that has elapsed since any living being has passed through 
them. Nobody would volunteer to accompany me in my 
survey, and nobody could tell me which keys fitted which 
room doors in any part of the north side. I could find no 



THE DEAD SECRET. 73 

plan containing the names or numbers of the rooms ; nor, to 
my surprise, were there any labels attached separately to the 
keys. They were given to me, all hanging together on a 
large ring, with an ivory label on it, which was only marked 
Keys of the North Rooms. I take the liberty of mentioning 
these particulars in order to account for my having, as you 
might think, delayed my stay at Porthgenna Tower longer 
than is needful. I lost nearly a whole day in taking the keys 
off the ring, and fitting them at hazard to the right doors. 
And I occupied some hours of another day in marking each 
door with a number on the outside, and putting a correspond 
ing label to each key, before I replaced it on the ring, in or 
der to prevent the possibility of future errors and delays. 

"As I hope to furnish you, in a few days, with a detailed 
estimate of the repairs needed in the north part of the house, 
from basement to roof, I need only say here that they will 
occupy some time, and will be of the most extensive nature. 
The beams of the staircase and the flooring of the first story 
have got the dry rot. The damp in some rooms, and the rats 
in others, have almost destroyed the wainscotings. Four of 
the mantel-pieces have given out from the walls, and all the 
ceilings are either stained, cracked, or peeled away in large 
patches. The flooring is, in general, in a better condition 
than I had anticipated; but the shutters and window-sashes 
are so warped as to be useless. It is only fair to acknowl 
edge that the expense of setting all these things to rights 
that is to say, of making the rooms safe and habitable, and 
of putting them in proper condition for the upholsterer will 
be considerable. I would respectfully suggest, in the event 
of your feeling any surprise or dissatisfaction at the amount 
of my estimate, that you should name a friend in whom you 
place confidence, to go over the north rooms with me, keep 
ing my estimate in his hand. I will undertake to prove, if 
needful, the necessity of each separate repair, and the justice 
of each separate charge for the same, to the satisfaction of 
any competent and impartial person whom you may please 
to select. 

"Trusting to send you the estimate in a few days, 
"I remain, Sir, 

" Your humble servant, 

"THOMAS HORLOCK." 



74 THE DEAD SECRET. 

"A very honest, straightforward letter," said Mr. Frank- 
land. 

"I wish he had sent the estimate with it," said Rosamond. 
" Why could not the provoking man tell us at once in round 
numbers what the repairs will really cost ?" 

" I suspect, my dear, he was afraid of shocking us, if he 
mentioned the amount in round numbers." 

" That horrid money ! It is always getting in one s way, 
and upsetting one s plans. If we haven t got enough, let us 
go and borrow of somebody who has. Do you mean to dis 
patch a friend to Porthgenna to go over the house with Mr. 
Horlock ? If you do, I know who I wish you would send." 

" Who ?" 

" Me, if you please under your escort, of course. Don t 
laugh, Lenny ; I would be very sharp with Mr. Horlock ; I 
would object to every one of his charges, and beat him down 
without mercy. I once saw a surveyor go over a house, and 
I know exactly what to do. You stamp on the floor, and 
knock at the walls, and scrape at the brick-work, and look up 
all the chimneys, and out of all the windows sometimes you 
make notes in a little book, sometimes you measure with a 
foot-rule, sometimes you sit down all of a sudden, and think 
profoundly and the end of it is that you say the house will 
do very well indeed, if the tenant will pull out his purse, and 
put it in proper repair." 

" Well done, Rosamond ! You have one more accomplish 
ment than I knew of; and I suppose I have no choice now 
but to give you an opportunity of displaying it. If you don t 
object, my dear, to being associated with a professional as 
sistant in the important business of checking Mr. Horlock s 
estimate, I don t object to paying a short visit to Porthgenna 
whenever you please especially now I know that the west 
rooms are still habitable." 

" Oh, how kind of you ! how pleased I shall be ! how I shall 
enjoy seeing the old place again before it is altered ! I was 
only five years old, Lenny, when we left Porthgenna, and I 
am so anxious to see what I can remember of it, after such a 
long, long absence as mine. Do you know, I never saw any 
thing of that ruinous north side of the house ? and I do so 
dote on old rooms ! We will go all through them, Lenny. 
You shall have hold of my hand, and look with my eyes, and 



THE DEAD SECRET. 75 

make as many discoveries as I do. I prophesy that we shall 
see ghosts, and find treasures, and hear mysterious noises 
and, oh heavens ! what clouds of dust we shall have to go 
through. Pouf ! the very anticipation of them chokes me al 
ready !" 

" Now we are on the subject of Porthgenna, Rosamond, 
let us be serious for one moment. It is clear to me that these 
repairs of the north rooms will cost a large sum of money. 
Now, my love, I consider no sum of money misspent, how 
ever large it may be, if it procures you pleasure. I am with 
you heart and soul " 

He paused. His wife s caressing arms were twining round 
his neck again, and her cheek was laid gently against his. 
" Go on, Lenny," she said, with such an accent of tenderness 
in the utterance of those three simple words that his speech 
failed him for the moment, and all his sensations seemed ab 
sorbed in the one luxury of listening. "Rosamond," he 
whispered, " there is no music in the world that touches me 
as your voice touches me now ! I feel it all through me, as 
I used sometimes to feel the sky at night, in the time when 
I could see." As he spoke, the caressing arms tightened 
round his neck, and the fervent lips softly took the place 
which the cheek had occupied. " Go on, Lenny," they re 
peated, happily as well as tenderly now, " you said you were 
with me, heart and soul. With me in what ?" 

" In your project, love, for inducing your father to retire 
from his profession after this last cruise, and in your hope of 
prevailing on him to pass the evening of his days happily 
with us at Porthgenna. If the money spent in restoring the 
north rooms, so that we may all live in them for the future, 
does indeed so alter the look of the place to his eyes as to 
dissipate his old sorrowful associations with it, and to make 
his living there again a pleasure instead of a pain to him, I 
shall regard it as money well laid out. But, Rosamond, are 
you sure of the success of your plan before we undertake it? 
Have you dropped any hint of the Porthgenna project to your 
father?" 

" I told him, Lenny, that I should never be quite comfort 
able unless he left the sea and came to live with us and he 
said that he would. I did not mention a word about Porth 
genna nor did he but he knows that we shall live there 



76 THE DEAD SECRET. 

when we are settled, and he made no conditions when he 
promised that our home should be his home." 

" Is the loss of your mother the only sad association he has 
with the place ?" 

" Not quite. There is another association, which has never 
been mentioned, but which I may tell you, because there are 
no secrets between us. My mother had a favorite maid who 
lived with her from the time of her marriage, and who was, 
accidentally, the only person present in her room when she 
died. I remember hearing of this woman as being odd in her 
look and manner, and no great favorite with any body but 
her mistress. Well, on the morning of my mother s death, 
she disappeared from the house in the strangest way, leaving 
behind her a most singular and mysterious letter to my fa 
ther, asserting that in my mother s dying moments a Secret 
had been confided to her which she was charged to divulge 
to her master when her mistress was no more; and adding 
that she was afraid to mention this secret, and that, to avoid 
being questioned about it, she had resolved on leaving the 
house forever. She had been gone some hours when the let 
ter was opened and she has never been seen or heard of 
since that time. This circumstance seemed to make almost 
as strong an impression on my father s mind as the shock of 
my mother s death. Our neighbors and servants all thought 
(as I think) that the woman was mad ; but he never agreed 
with them, and I know that he has neither destroyed nor for 
gotten the letter from that time to this." 

"A strange event, Rosamond a very strange event. I 
don t wonder that it has made a lasting impression on him." 

" Depend upon it, Lenny, the servants and the neighbors 
were right the woman was mad. Any way, however, it 
was certainly a singular event in our family. All old houses 
have their romance and that is the romance of our house. 
But years and years have passed since then ; and, what with 
time, and what with the changes we are going to make, I 
have no fear that my dear, good father will spoil our plans. 
Give him a new north garden at Porthgenna, where he can 
walk the decks, as I call it give him new north rooms to 
live in and I will answer for the result. But all this is in 
the future ; let us get back to the present time. When shall 
we pay our flying visit to Porthgenna, Lenny, and plunge 



THE DEAD SECRET. 77 

into the important business of checking Mr. Horlock s esti 
mate for the repairs ?" 

" We have three weeks more to stay here, Rosamond." 

"Yes; and then we must go back to Long Beckley. I 
promised that best and biggest of men, the vicar, that we 
would pay our first visit to him. He is sure not to let us off 
under three weeks or a month." 

" In that case, then, we had better say two months hence 
for the visit to Porthgenna. Is your writing-case in the 
room, Rosamond ?" 

"Yes; close by us, on the table." 

" Write to Mr. Horlock then, love and appoint a meeting 
in two months time at the old house. Tell him also, as we 
must not trust ourselves on unsafe stairs especially consid 
ering how dependent I am on banisters to have the west 
staircase repaired immediately. And, while you have the pen 
in your hand, perhaps it may save trouble if you write a sec 
ond note to the housekeeper at Porthgenna, to tell her when 
she may expect us." 

Rosamond sat down gayly at the table, and dipped her pen 
in the ink with a little flourish of triumph. 

"In two months," she exclaimed joyfully, "I shall see the 
dear old place again ! In two months, Lenny, our profane 
feet will be raising the dust in the solitudes of the North 
Rooms." 

D2 



78 THE DEAD SECRET. 



BOOK III. 
CHAPTER I. 

TIMON OF LONDON. 

TIMON of Athens retreated from an ungrateful world to a 
cavern by the sea-shore, vented his misanthropy in magnifi 
cent poetry, and enjoyed the honor of being called "My Lord." 
Timon of London took refuge from his species in a detached 
house at Bayswater expressed his sentiments in shabby 
prose and was only addressed as "Mr. Treverton." The 
one point of resemblance which it is possible to set against 
these points of contrast between the two Timons consisted 
in this : that their misanthropy was, at least, genuine. Both 
were incorrigible haters of mankind. 

There is probably no better proof of the accuracy of that 
definition of man which describes him as an imitative animal, 
than is to be found in the fact that the verdict of humanity 
is always against any individual member of the species who 
presumes to differ from the rest. A man is one of a flock, 
and his wool must be of the general color. He must drink 
when the rest drink, and graze where the rest graze. Let him 
walk at noonday with perfect composure of countenance and 
decency of gait, with not the slightest appearance of vacancy 
in his eyes or wildness in his manner, from one end of Oxford 
Street to the other without his hat, and let every one of the 
thousands of hat-wearing people whom he passes be asked 
separately what they think of him, how many will abstain 
from deciding instantly that he is mad, on no other evidence 
than the evidence of his bare head ? Nay, more ; let him 
politely stop each one of those passengers, and let him explain 
in the plainest form of words, and in the most intelligible 
manner, that his head feels more easy and comfortable with 
out a hat than with one, how many of his fellow mortals who 
decided that he was mad on first meeting him, will change 
their opinion when they part from him after hearing his ex 
planation ? In the vast majority of cases, the very explana- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 79 

tion itself would be accepted as an excellent additional proof 
that the intellect of the hatless man was indisputably de 
ranged. 

Starting at the beginning of the march of life out of step 
with the rest of the mortal regiment, Andrew Treverton paid 
the penalty of his irregularity from his earliest days. He was 
a phenomenon in the nursery, a butt at school, and a victim 
at college. The ignorant nurse-maid reported him as a queer 
child ; the learned school-master genteelly varied the phrase, 
and described him as an eccentric boy; the college tutor, 
harping on the same string, facetiously likened his head to a 
roof, and said there was a slate loose in it. When a slate is 
loose, if nobody fixes it in time, it ends by falling off. In the 
roof of a house we view that consequence as a necessary re 
sult of neglect; in the roof of a man s head we are generally 
very much shocked and surprised by it. 

Overlooked in some directions and misdirected in others, 
Andrew s uncouth capacities for good tried helplessly to 
shape themselves. The better side of his eccentricity took 
the form of friendship. He became violently and unintelli 
gibly fond of one among his school-fellows a boy who treat 
ed him with no especial consideration in the play-ground, and 
who gave him no particular help in the class. Nobody could 
discover the smallest reason for it, but it was nevertheless a 
notorious fact that Andrew s pocket-money was always at 
this boy s service, that Andrew ran about after him like a 
dog, and that Andrew over and over again took the blame 
and punishment on his own shoulders which ought to have 
fallen on the shoulders of his friend. When, a few years aft 
erward, that friend went to college, the lad petitioned to be 
sent to college too, and attached himself there more closely 
than ever to the strangely chosen comrade of his school-boy 
days. Such devotion as this must have touched any man 
possessed of ordinary generosity of disposition. It made no 
impression whatever on the inherently base nature of An 
drew s friend. After three years of intercourse at college 
intercourse which was all selfishness on one side and all self- 
sacrifice on the other the end came, and the light was let in 
cruelly on Andrew s eyes. When his purse grew light in 
his friend s hand, and when his acceptances were most nu 
merous on his friend s bills, the brother of his honest affec- 



80 THE DEAD SECRET. 

tion, the hero of his simple admiration, abandoned him to 
embarrassment, to ridicule, and to solitude, without the faint 
est affectation of penitence without so much even as a w r ord 
of farewell. 

He returned to his father s house, a soured man at the out 
set of life returned to be upbraided for the debts that he had 
contracted to serve the man who had heartlessly outraged 
and shamelessly cheated him. He left home in disgrace to 
travel on a small allowance. The travels were protracted, 
and they ended, as such travels often do, in settled expatria 
tion. The life he led, the company he kept, during his long 
residence abroad, did him permanent and fatal harm. When 
he at last returned to England, he presented himself in the 
most hopeless of all characters the character of a man 
who believes in nothing. At this period of his life, his one 
chance for the future lay in the good results which his broth 
er s influence over him might have produced. The two had 
hardly resumed their intercourse of early days, when the 
quarrel occasioned by Captain Treverton s marriage broke it 
off forever. From that time, for all social interests and pur 
poses, Andrew was a lost man. From that time he met the 
last remonstrances that were made to him by the last friends 
who took any interest in his fortunes always with the same 
bitter and hopeless form of reply: "My dearest friend for 
sook and cheated me," he would say. "My only brother has 
quarreled with me for the sake of a play-actress. What am 
I to expect of the rest of mankind after that? I have suffer 
ed twice for my belief in others I will never suffer a third 
time. The wise man is the man who does not disturb his 
heart at its natural occupation of pumping blood through his 
body. I have gathered my experience abroad and at home, 
and have learned enough to see through the delusions of life 
which look like realities to other men s eyes. My business 
in this world is to eat, drink, sleep, and die. Every thing 
else is superfluity and I have done with it." 

The few people who ever cared to inquire about him again, 
after being repulsed by such an avowal as this, heard of him 
three or four years after his brother s marriage in the neigh 
borhood of Bays water. Local report described him as having 
bought the first cottage he could find which was cut off from 
other houses by a wall all round it. It was further rumored 



THE DEAD SECRET. 81 

that he was living like a miser ; that he had got an old man 
servant, named Shrowl, who was even a greater enemy to man 
kind than himself; that he allowed no living soul, not even an 
occasional char-woman, to enter the house ; that he was letting 
his beard grow, and that he had ordered his servant Shrowl 
to follow his example. In the year eighteen hundred and 
forty-four, the fact of a man s not shaving was regarded by 
the enlightened majority of the English nation as a proof of 
unsoundness of intellect. At the present time Mr. Trever- 
ton s beard would only have interfered with his reputation 
for respectability. Seventeen years ago it was accepted as. 
so much additional evidence in support of the old theory that 
his intellects were deranged. He was at that very time, as 
his stock-broker could have testified, one of the sharpest men 
of business in London; he could argue on the wron side of 
any question with an acuteness of sophistry and sarcasm that 
Dr. Johnson himself might have envied; he kept his house 
hold accounts right to a farthing but what did these ad 
vantages avail him, in the estimation of his neighbors, when 
he presumed to live on another plan than theirs, and when 
he wore a hairy certificate of lunacy on the lower part of his 
face? We have advanced a little in the matter of partial 
toleration of beards since that time ; but we have still a good 
deal of ground to get over. In the present year of progress, 
eighteen hundred and sixty-one, would the most trustworthy 
banker s clerk in the whole metropolis have the slightest 
chance of keeping his situation if he left off shaving his chin ? 
Common report, which calumniated Mr. Treverton as mad, 
had another error to answer for in describing him as a miser. 
He saved more than two thirds of the income derived from 
his comfortable fortune, not because he liked hoarding up 
money, but because he had no enjoyment of the comforts 
and luxuries which money is spent in procuring. To do him 
justice, his contempt for his own wealth was quite as hearty 
as his contempt for the wealth of his neighbors. Thus char 
acteristically wrong in endeavoring to delineate his charac 
ter, report was, nevertheless, for once in a way, inconsistent 
ly right in describing his manner of life. It was true that 
he had bought the first cottage he could find that was se 
cluded within its own walls true that nobody was allowed, 
on any pretense whatever, to enter his doors and true that 



82 THE DEAD SECRET. 

he had met with a servant, who was even bitterer against all 
mankind than himself, in the person of Mr. Shrowl. 

The life these two led approached as nearly to the exist 
ence of the primitive man (or savage) as the surrounding con 
ditions of civilization would allow. Admitting the necessity 
of eating and drinking, the first object of Mr. Treverton s am 
bition was to sustain life with the least possible dependence 
on the race of men who professed to supply their neighbors 
bodily wants, and who, as he conceived, cheated them infa 
mously on the strength of their profession. 

Having a garden at the back of the house, Timon of London 
dispensed with the green-grocer altogether by cultivating his 
own vegetables. There was no room for growing wheat, or 
he would have turned farmer also on his own account ; but 
he could outwit the miller and the baker, at any rate, by 
buying a sack of corn, grinding it in his own hand-mill, and 
giving the flour to Shrowl to make into bread. On the same 
principle, the meat for the house was bought wholesale of 
the City salesmen the master and servant eating as much 
of it in the fresh state as they could, salting the rest, and set 
ting butchers at defiance. As for drink, neither brewer nor 
publican ever had the chance of extorting a farthing from 
Mr. Treverton s pocket. He and Shrowl were satisfied with 
beer and they brewed for themselves. With bread, vege 
tables, meat, and malt liquor, these two hermits of modern 
days achieved the great double purpose of keeping life in 
and keeping the tradesmen out- 
Eating like primitive men, they lived in all other respects 
like primitive men also. They had pots, pans, and pipkins, 
two deal tables, two chairs, two old sofas, two short pipes, 
and two long cloaks. They had no stated meal-times, no car 
pets and bedsteads, no cabinets, book-cases, or ornamental 
knickknacks of any kind, no laundress, and no char-woman. 
When either of the two wanted to eat and drink, he cut off 
his crust of bread, cooked his bit of meat, drew his drop of 
beer, without the slightest reference to the other. When 
either of the two thought he wanted a clean shirt, which was 
very seldom, he went and washed one for himself. When 
either of the two discovered that any part of the house was 
getting very dirty indeed, he took a bucket of water and a 
birch -broom, and washed the place out like a dog -kennel. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 83 

And, lastly, when either of the two wanted to go to sleep, he 
wrapped himself up in his cloak, lay down on one of the so 
fas, and took what repose he required, early in the evening 
or late in the morning, just as he pleased. 

When there was no baking, brewing, gardening, or clean 
ing to be done, the two sat down opposite each other, and 
smoked for hours, generally without uttering a word. When 
ever they did speak, they quarreled. Their ordinary dia 
logue was a species of conversational prize-fight, beginning 
with a sarcastic affectation of good-will on either side, and 
ending in hearty exchanges of violent abuse just as the 
boxers go through the feeble formality of shaking hands be 
fore they enter on the serious practical business of beating 
each other s faces out of all likeness to the image of man. 
Not having so many disadvantages of early refinement and 
education to contend against as his master, Shrowl generally 
won the victory in these engagements of the tongue. In 
deed, though nominally the servant, he was really the ruling 
spirit in the house acquiring unbounded influence over his 
master by dint of outmarching Mr. Treverton in every direc 
tion on his own ground. Shrowl s was the harshest voice; 
Shrowl s were the bitterest sayings ; and Shrowl s was the 
longest beard. The surest of all retributions is the retribu 
tion that lies in wait for a man who boasts. Mr. Treverton 
was rashly given to boasting of his independence, and when 
retribution overtook him it assumed a personal form, and 
bore the name of Shrowl. 

On a certain morning, about three weeks after Mrs. Frank- 
land had written to the housekeeper at Porthgenna Tower 
to mention the period at which her husband and herself 
might be expected there, Mr. Treverton descended, with his 
sourest face and his surliest manner, from the upper regions 
of the cottage to one of the rooms on the ground-floor, which 
civilized tenants would probably have called the parlor. 
Like his elder brother, he was a tall, well-built man ; but his 
bony, haggard, sallow face bore not the slightest resemblance 
to the handsome, open, sunburnt face of the Captain. No 
one seeing them together could possibly have guessed that 
they were brothers so completely did they differ in expres 
sion as well as in feature. The heart-aches that he had suf- 



84 THE DEAD SECRET. 

fered in youth ; the reckless, wandering, dissipated life that 
he had led in manhood ; the petulance, the disappointment, 
and the physical exhaustion of his latter days, had so wasted 
and worn him away that he looked his brother s elder by 
almost twenty years. With unbrushed hair and unwashed 
face, with a tangled gray beard, and an old, patched, dirty 
flannel dressing-gown that hung about him like a sack, this 
descendant of a wealthy and ancient family looked as if his 
birthplace had been the work-house, and his vocation in life 
the selling of cast-off clothes. 

It was breakfast-time with Mr. Treverton that is to say, 
it was the time at which he felt hungry enough to think 
about eating something. In the same position over the 
mantel-piece in which a looking-glass would have been placed 
in a household of ordinary refinement, there hung in the cot 
tage of Timon of London a side of bacon. On the deal table 
by the fire stood half a loaf of heavy-looking brown-bread ; 
in a corner of the room was a barrel of beer, with two bat 
tered pewter pots hitched onto nails in the wall above it; 
and under the grate lay a smoky old gridiron, left just as it 
had been thrown down when last used and done with. Mr. 
Treverton took a greasy clasp-knife out of the pocket of his 
dressing-gown, cut off a rasher of bacon, jerked the gridiron 
onto the fire, and began to cook his breakfast. He had just 
turned the rasher, when the door opened, and Shrowl entered 
the room, with his pipe in his mouth, bent on the same eat 
ing errand as his master. 

In personal appearance, Shrowl was short, fat, flabby, and 
perfectly bald, except at the back of his head, where a ring 
of bristly iron-gray hair projected like a collar that had got 
hitched out of its place. To make amends for the scanti 
ness of his hair, the beard which he had cultivated by his 
master s desire grew far over his cheeks, and drooped down 
on his chest in two thick jagged peaks. He wore a very old 
long-tailed dress-coat, which he had picked up a bargain in 
Petticoat Lane a faded yellow shirt, with a large torn frill 
velveteen trowsers, turned up at the ankles and Blucher 
boots that had never been blacked since the day when they 
last left the cobbler s stall. His color was unhealthily florid, 
his thick lips curled upward with a malicious grin, and his 
eyes were the nearest approach, in form and expression, to 




. : . ;. 



" HE HAD JUST TURNED THE RASHER, WHEN THE DOOR OPENED, AND 
SHROWL ENTERED THE ROOM." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 85 

the eyes of a bull terrier which those features are capable of 
achieving when they are placed in the countenance of a man. 
Any painter wanting to express strength, insolence, ugliness, 
coarseness, and cunning in the face and figure of one and the 
same individual, could have discovered no better model for 
the purpose, all the world over, than he might have found in 
the person of Mr. Shrowl. 

Neither master nor servant exchanged a word or took the 
smallest notice of each other on first meeting. Shrowl stood 
stolidly contemplative, with his hands in his pockets, wait 
ing for his turn at the gridiron. Mr. Treverton finished his 
cooking, took his bacon to the table, and, cutting a crust of 
bread, began to eat his breakfast. When he had disposed 
of the first mouthful, he condescended to look up at Shrowl, 
who was at that moment opening his clasp-knife and ap 
proaching the side of bacon with slouching steps and sleepi 
ly greedy eyes. 

"What do you mean by that?" asked Mr. Treverton, 
pointing with indignant surprise at ShrowPs breast. " You 
ugly brute, you ve got a clean shirt on !" 

" Thankee, Sir, for noticing it," said Shrowl, with a sarcas 
tic affectation of humility. "This is a joyful occasion, this 
is. I couldn t do no less than put a clean shirt on, when it s 
my master s birthday. Many happy returns, Sir. Perhaps 
you thought I should forget that to-day was your birthday ? 
Lord bless your sweet face, I wouldn t have forgot it on any 
account. How old are you to-day? It s a long time ago, 
Sir, since you was a plump smiling little boy, with a frill 
round your neck, and marbles in your pocket, and trowsers 
and waistcoat all in one, and kisses and presents from Pa 
and Ma and uncle and aunt, on your birthday. Don t you 
be afraid of me wearing out this shirt by too much washing. 
I mean to put it away in lavender against your next birth 
day ; or against your funeral, which is just as likely at your 
time of life isn t it, Sir?" 

" Don t waste a clean shirt on my funeral," retorted Mr. 
Treverton. "I hav n t left you any money in my will, 
Shrowl. You ll be on your way to the work-house when 
I m on my way to the grave." 

" Have you really made your will at last, Sir ?" inquired 
Shrowl, pausing, with an appearance of the greatest interest, 



86 THE DEAD SECRET. 

in the act of cutting off his slice of bacon. "I humbly beg 
pardon, but I always thought you was afraid to do it." 

The servant had evidently touched intentionally on one of 
the master s sore points. Mr. Treverton thumped his crust 
of bread on the table, and looked up angrily at Shrowl. 

" Afraid of making my will, you fool !" said he. " I don t 
make it, and I won t make it, on principle." 

Shrowl slowly sawed off his slice of bacon, and began to 
whistle a tune. 

" On principle," repeated Mr. Treverton. " Rich men who 
leave money behind them are the farmers who raise the crop 
of human wickedness. When a man has any spark of gen 
erosity in his nature, if you want to put it out, leave him a 
legacy. When a man is bad, if you want to make him 
worse, leave him a legacy. If you \vant to collect a number 
of men together for the purpose of perpetuating corruption 
and oppression on a large scale, leave them a legacy under 
the form of endowing a public charity. If you want to give 
a woman the best chance in the world of getting a bad hus 
band, leave her a legacy. Make my will! I have a pretty 
strong dislike of my species, Shrowl, but I don t quite hate 
mankind enough yet to do such mischief among them as 
that !" Ending his diatribe in those words, Mr. Treverton 
took down one of the battered pewter pots, and refreshed 
himself with a pint of beer. 

Shrowl shifted the gridiron to a clear place in the fire, and 
chuckled sarcastically. 

" Who the devil would you have me leave my money to ?" 
cried Mr. Treverton, overhearing him. " To my brother, who 
thinks me a brute now ; who would think me a fool then ; 
and who would encourage swindling, anyhow, by spending 
all my money among doxies and strolling players ? To the 
child of that player-woman, whom I have never set eyes on, 
who has been brought up to hate me, and who would turn 
hypocrite directly by pretending, for decency s sake, to be 
sorry for my death ? To you^ you human baboon ! you, 
who w r ould set up a usury office directly, and prey upon 
the widow, the fatherless, and the unfortunate generally, all 
over the world ? Your good health, Mr. Shrowl ! I can 
laugh as well as you especially when I know I m not going 
to leave you sixpence." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 87 

Shrowl, in his turn, began to get a little irritated now. 
The jeering civility which he had chosen to assume on first 
entering the room gave place to his habitual surliness of 
manner and his natural growling intonation of voice. 

" You just let me alone will you ?" he said, sitting down 
sulkily to his breakfast. " I ve done joking for to-day ; sup 
pose you finish too. What s the use of talking nonsense 
about your money? You must leave it to somebody." 

" Yes, I will," said Mr. Treverton. " I will leave it, as I 
have told you over and over again, to the first Somebody I 
can find who honestly despises money, and who can t be 
made the worse, therefore, by having it." 

" That means nobody," grunted Shrowl. 

" I know it does !" retorted his master. 

Before Shrowl could utter a word of rejoinder, there was a 
ring at the gate-bell of the cottage. 

" Go out," said Mr. Treverton, " and see what that is. If 
it s a woman visitor, show her what a scarecrow you are, and 
frighten her away. If it s a man visitor " 

" If it s a man visitor," interposed Shrowl, " I ll punch his 
head for interrupting me at my breakfast." 

Mr. Treverton filled and lit his pipe during his servant s 
absence. Before the tobacco was well alight, Shrowl re 
turned, and reported a man visitor. 

"Did you punch his head?" asked Mr. Treverton. 

" No," said Shrowl. "I picked up his letter. He poked it 
under the gate and went away. Here it is." 

The letter was written on foolscap paper, superscribed in 
a round legal hand. As Mr. Treverton opened it, two slips 
cut from newspapers dropped out. One fell on the table be 
fore which he was sitting; the other fluttered to the floor. 
This last slip Shrowl picked up and looked over its contents, 
without troubling himself to go through the ceremony of 
first asking leave. 

After slowly drawing in and slowly puifing out again one 
mouthful of tobacco-smoke, Mr. Treverton began to read the 
letter. As his eye fell on the first lines, his lips began to 
work round the mouth-piece of the pipe in a manner that 
was very unusual with him. The letter was not long enough 
to require him to turn over the first leaf of it it ended at the 
bottom of the opening sheet. He read it down to the signa- 



88 THE DEAD SECKET. 

ture then looked up to the address, and went through it 
again from the beginning. His lips still continued to work 
round the mouth-piece of the pipe, but he smoked no more. 
When he had finished the second reading, he set the letter 
down very gently on the table, looked at his servant with 
an unaccustomed vacancy in the expression of his eyes, and 
took the pipe out of his mouth with a hand that trembled a 
little. 

" Shrowl," he said, very quietly, " my brother, the Captain, 
is drowned." 

" I know he is," answered Shrowl, without looking up from 
the newspaper-slip. " I m reading about it here." 

" The last words my brother said to me when we quarreled 
about the player-woman," continued Mr.Treverton, speaking 
as much to himself as to his servant, " were that I should die 
without one kind feeling in my heart toward any living creat 
ure." 

" So you will," muttered Shrowl, turning the slip over to 
see if there was any thing worth reading at the back of it. 

"I wonder what he thought about me when he was dy 
ing ?" said Mr. Treverton, abstractedly, taking up the letter 
again from the table. 

"He didn t waste a thought on you or any body else," re 
marked Shrowl. " If he thought at all, he thought about how 
he could save his life. When he had done thinking about 
that, he had done living too." With this expression of opin 
ion Mr. Shrowl went to the beer-barrel, and drew his morn 
ing draught. 

" Damn that player- woman !" muttered Mr.Treverton. As 
he said the words his face darkened and his lips closed firm 
ly. He smoothed the letter out on the table. There seemed 
to be some doubt in his mind whether he had mastered all 
its contents yet some idea that there ought to be more in 
it than he had yet discovered. In going over it for the third 
time, he read it to himself aloud and very slowly, as if he 
was determined to fix every separate word firmly in his mem 
ory. This was the letter : 

" SIB, As the old legal adviser and faithful friend of your 
family,! am desired by Mrs. Frankland, formerly Miss Trev 
erton, to acquaint you with the sad news of your brother s 



THE DEAD SECRET. 89 

death. This deplorable event occurred on board the ship of 
which he was captain, during a gale of wind in which the 
vessel was lost on a reef of rocks off the island of Antigua. 
I inclose a detailed account of the shipwreck, extracted from 
The Times, by which you will see that your brother died no 
bly in the performance of his duty toward the officers and 
men whom he commanded. I also send a slip from the local 
Cornish paper, containing a memoir of the deceased gentle 
man. 

"Before closing this communication, I must add that no 
will has been found, after the most rigorous search, among 
the papers of the late Captain Treverton. Having disposed, 
as you know, of Porthgenna, the only property of which he 
was possessed at the time of his death was personal property, 
derived from the sale of his estate ; and this, in consequence 
of his dying intestate, will go in due course of law to hisj 
daughter, as his nearest of kin. 

" I am, Sir, your obedient servant, 

"ALEXANDER NIXON." 

The newspaper-slip, which had fallen on the table, con 
tained the paragraph from The Times. The slip from the 
Cornish paper, which had dropped to the floor, Shrowl poked 
under his master s eyes, in a fit of temporary civility, as soon 
as he had done reading it. Mr. Treverton took not the slight 
est notice either of the one paragraph or the other. He still 
sat looking at the letter, even after he had read it for the 
third time. 

" Why don t you give the strip of print a turn, as well as 
the sheet of writing?" asked Shrowl. "Why don t you read 
about what a great man your brother was, and what a good 
life he led, and what a wonderful handsome daughter he s left 
behind him, and what a capital marriage she s made along 
with the man that s owner of your old family estate ? She 
don t want your money now, at any rate ! The ill wind that 
blowed her father s ship on the rocks has blowed forty thou 
sand pounds of good into her lap. Why don t you read 
about it ? She and her husband have got a better house in 
Cornwall than you have got here. Ain t you glad of that ? 
They were going to have repaired the place from top to bot 
tom for your brother to go and live along with em in clover 



90 THE DEAD SECRET. 

when he came back from sea. Who will ever repair a place 
for you ? I wonder whether your niece would knock the old 
house about for your sake, now, if you was to clean yourself 
up and go and ask her?" 

At the last question, Shrowl paused in the w r ork of aggra 
vation not for want of more words, but for want of encour 
agement to utter them. For the first time since they had 
kept house together, he had tried to provoke his master and 
had failed. Mr. Treverton listened, or appeared to listen, 
without moving a muscle without the faintest change to 
anger in his face. The only words he said when Shrowl had 
done were these two 

"Go out!" 

Shrowl was not an easy man to move, but he absolutely 
changed color when he heard himself suddenly ordered to 
leave the room. 

" Go out !" reiterated Mr. Treverton. " And hold your 
tongue henceforth and forever about my brother and my 
brother s daughter. I never have set eyes upon the player- 
woman s child, and I never will. Hold your tongue leave 
me alone go out!" 

"I ll be even with him for this," thought Shrowl as he 
slowly withdrew from the room. 

When he had closed the door, he listened outside of it, and 
heard Mr. Treverton push aside his chair, and walk up and 
down, talking to- himself. Judging by the confused words 
that escaped him, Shrowl concluded that his thoughts were 
still running on the " player-woman" who had set his broth 
er and himself at variance. He seemed to feel a barbarous 
sense of relief in venting his dissatisfaction with himself, aft 
er the news of Captain Treverton s death, on the memory of 
the woman whom he hated so bitterly, and on the child whom 
she had left behind her. 

After a while the low rumbling tones of his voice ceased 
altogether. Shrowl peeped through the key-hole, and saw 
that he was reading the newspaper-slips which contained the 
account of the shipwreck and the Memoir of his brother. 
The latter adverted to some of those family particulars which 
the vicar of Long Beckley had mentioned to his guest ; and 
the writer of the Memoir concluded by expressing a hope that 
the bereavement which Mr. and Mrs. Frankland had suffered 



THE DEAD SECRET. 91 

would not interfere with their project for repairing Porth- 
genna Tower, after they had gone the length already of send 
ing a builder to survey the place. Something in the word 
ing of that paragraph seemed to take Mr. Treverton s mem 
ory back to his youth-time when the old family house had 
been his home. He whispered a few words to himself which 
gloomily referred to the days that were gone, rose from his 
chair impatiently, threw both the newspaper-slips into the 
fire, watched them while they were burning, and sighed when 
the black gossamer ashes floated upward on the draught, and 
were lost in the chimney. 

The sound of that sigh startled Shrowl as the sound of a 
pistol-shot might have startled another man. His bull-ter 
rier eyes opened wide in astonishment, and he shook his head 
ominously as he walked away from the door. 



CHAPTER II. 

WILL THEY COME? 

THE housekeeper at Porthgenna Tower had just completed 
the necessary preparations for the reception of her master 
and mistress, at the time mentioned in Mrs. Frankland s let 
ter from St. Swithin s-on-Sea, when she was startled by re 
ceiving a note sealed with black wax, and surrounded by a 
thick mourning border. The note briefly communicated the 
news of Captain Treverton s death, and informed her that 
the visit of Mr. and Mrs. Frankland to Porthgenna was de 
ferred for an indefinite period. 

By the same post the builder, who was superintending the 
renovation of the west staircase, also received a letter, request 
ing him to send in his account as soon as the repairs on which 
he was then engaged were completed ; and telling him that 
Mr. Frankland was unable, for the present, to give any fur 
ther attention to the project for making the north rooms hab 
itable. On the receipt of this communication, the builder 
withdrew himself and his men as soon as the west stairs and 
banisters had been made secure ; and Porthgenna Tower was 
again left to the care of the housekeeper and her servant, 
without master or mistress, friends or strangers, to thread its 
solitary passages or enliven its empty rooms. 

E 



92 THE DEAD SECKET. 

From this time eight months passed away, and the house 
keeper heard nothing of her master and mistress, except 
through the medium of paragraphs in the local newspaper, 
which dubiously referred to the probability of their occupy 
ing the old house, and interesting themselves in the affairs 
of their tenantry, at no very distant period. Occasionally, 
too, when business took him to the post-town, the steward 
collected reports about his employers among the old friends 
and dependents of the Treverton family. 

From these sources of information, the housekeeper was 
led to conclude that Mr. and Mrs. Frankland had returned 
to Long Beckley, after receiving the news of Captain Trev- 
erton s death, and had lived there for some months in strict 
retirement. When they left that place, they moved (if the 
newspaper report was to be credited) to the neighborhood of 
London, and occupied the house of some friends who were 
traveling on the Continent. Here they must have remained 
for some time, for the new year came and brought no rumors 
of any change in their place of abode. January and Febru 
ary passed without any news of them. Early in March the 
steward had occasion to go to the post-town. When he re 
turned to Porthgenna, he came back with a new report re 
lating to Mr. and Mrs. Frankland, which excited the house 
keeper s interest in an extraordinary degree. In two differ 
ent quarters, each highly respectable, the steward had heard 
it facetiously announced that the domestic responsibilities of 
his master and mistress were likely to be increased by their 
having a nurse to engage and a crib to buy at the end of the 
spring or the beginning of the summer. In plain English, 
among the many babies who might be expected to make their 
appearance in the world in the course of the next three 
months, there was one who would inherit the name of Frank- 
land, and who (if the infant luckily turned out to be a boy) 
would cause a sensation throughout West Cornwall as heir 
to the Porthgenna estate. 

In the next month, the month of April, before the house 
keeper and the steward had done discussing their last and 
most important fragment of news, the postman made his 
welcome appearance at Porthgenna Tower, and brought an 
other note from Mrs. Frankland. The housekeeper s face > 
brightened with unaccustomed pleasure and surprise as she 



THE DEAD SECRET. 93 

read the first line. The letter announced that the long-de- 

O 

ferred visit of her master and mistress to the old house would 
take place early in May, and that they might be expected 
to arrive any day from the first to the tenth of the month. 

The reasons which had led the owners of Porthgcnna to fix 
a period, at last, for visiting their country seat, were con 
nected with certain particulars" into which Mrs. Franldand 
had not thought it advisable to enter in her letter. The 
plain facts of the case were, that a little discussion had arisen 
between the husband and wife in relation to the next place 
of residence which they should select, after the return from 
the Continent of the friends whose house they were occupying. 
Mr. Frankland had very reasonably suggested returning again 
to Long Beckley not only because all their oldest friends 
lived in the neighborhood, but also (and circumstances made 
this an important consideration) because the place had the 
advantage of possessing an excellent resident medical man. 
Unfortunately this latter advantage, so far from carrying 
any weight with it in Mrs. Frankland s estimation, actually 
prejudiced her mind against the project of going to Long 
Beckley. She had always, she acknowledged, felt an un 
reasonable antipathy to the doctor there. He might be a 
very skillful, an extremely polite, and an undeniably respect 
able man ; but she never had liked him, and never should, 
and she was resolved to oppose the plan for living at Long 
Beckley, because the execution of it would oblige her to 
commit herself to his care. 

Two other places of residence were next suggested ; but 
Mrs. Frankland had the same objection to oppose to both 
in each case the resident doctor would be a stranger to her, 
and she did not like the notion of being attended by a 
stranger. Finally, as she had all along anticipated, the 
choice of the future abode was left entirely to her own incli 
nations ; and then, to the amazement of her husband and her 
friends, she immediately decided on going to Porthgcnna. 
She had formed this strange project, and was now resolved 
on executing it, partly because she was more curious than 
ever to see the place again ; partly because the doctor who 
had been with her mother in Mrs. Treverton s last illness^ 
and who had attended her through all her own little mala 
dies when she was a child, was still living and practicing in 



94 THE DEAD SECRET. 

the Porthgenna neighborhood. Her father and the doctor 
had been old cronies, and had met for years at the same 
chess-board every Saturday night. They had kept up their 
friendship, when circumstances separated them, by exchanges 
of Christmas presents every year; and when the sad news 
of the Captain s death had reached Cornwall, the doctor had 
written a letter of sympathy and condolence to Rosamond, 
speaking in such terms of his former friend and patron as she 
could never forget. He must be a nice, fatherly old man 
now, the man of all others who was fittest, on every account, 
to attend her. In short, Mrs. Frankland was just as strongly 
prejudiced in favor of employing the Porthgenna doctor as 
she was prejudiced against employing the Long Beckley doc 
tor ; and she ended, as all young married women with affec 
tionate husbands may, and do end, whenever they please by 
carrying her own point, and having her own way. 

On the first of May the west rooms were all ready for the 
reception of the master and nfistress of the house. The beds 
were aired, the carpets cleaned, the sofas and chairs uncover 
ed. The housekeeper put on her satin gown and her garnet 
brooch ; the maid followed suit, at a respectful distance, in 
brown merino and a pink ribbon ; and the steward, deter 
mining not to be outdone by the women, arrayed himself in 
a black brocaded waistcoat, which almost rivaled the gloom 
and grandeur of the housekeeper s satin gown. The day 
wore on, evening closed in, bed-time came, and there were 
no signs yet of Mr. and Mrs. Frankland. 

But the first was an early day on which to expect them. 
The steward thought so, and the housekeeper added that it 
would be foolish to feel disappointed, even if they did not ar 
rive until the fifth. The fifth came, and still nothing hap 
pened. The sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth followed, and 
no sound of the expected carriage-wheels came near the 
lonely house. 

On the tenth, and last day, the housekeeper, the steward, 
and the maid, all three rose earlier than usual ; all three 
opened and shut doors, and went up and down stairs oftener 
than was needful; all three looked out perpetually toward 
the moor and the high road, and thought the view flatter and 
duller and emptier than ever it had appeared to them before. 
The day waned, the sunset came ; darkness changed the per- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 95 

petual looking-out of the housekeeper, the steward, and the 
maid into perpetual listening ; ten o clock struck, and still 
there was nothing to be heard when they went to the open 
window but the wearisome beating of the surf on the sandy 
shore. 

The housekeeper began to calculate the time that would 
be consumed on the railway journey from London to Exeter, 
and on the posting journey afterward through Cornwall to 
Porthgenna. When had Mr. and Mrs. Frank! and left Exeter ? 
that was the first question. And what delays might they 
have encountered afterward in getting horses? that was the 
second. The housekeeper and the steward differed in debat 
ing these points ; but both agreed that it was necessary to 
sit up until midnight, on the chance of the master and mis 
tress arriving late. The maid, hearing her sentence of ban 
ishment from bed for the next two hours pronounced by the 
superior authorities, yawned and sighed mournfully was re 
proved by the steward and was furnished by the house 
keeper with a book of hymns to read to keep up her spirits. 

Twelve o clock struck, and still the monotonous beating of 
the surf, varied occasionally by those loud, mysterious, crack 
ing noises which make themselves heard at night in an old 
house, were the only audible sounds. The steward was doz 
ing ; the maid was fast asleep under the soothing influence 
of the hymns ; the housekeeper was wide awake, with her 
eyes fixed on the window, and her head shaking forebodingly 
from time to time. At the last stroke of the clock she left 
her chair, listened attentively, and still hearing nothing, 
shook the maid irritably by the shoulder, and stamped on 
the floor to arouse the steward. 

" We may go to bed," she said. " They are not coming. 
This is the second time they have disappointed us. The first 
time the Captain s death stood in the way. What stops 
them now ? Another death ? I shouldn t wonder if it was." 

" Now I think of it, no more should I," said the steward, 
ominously knitting his brows. 

"Another death!" repeated the housekeeper, superstitious- 
ly. "If it is another death, I should take it, in their place, 
as a warning to keep away from the house." 



96 THE DEAD SECRET. 



CHAPTER III. 

MRS. JAZEPH. 

IF, instead of hazarding the guess that a second death 
stood in the way of Mr. and Mrs. Frankland s arrival at Porth- 
genna, the housekeeper had, by way of variety, surmised 
this time that a birth was the obstacle which delayed them, 
she might have established her character as a wise woman, 
by hitting at random on the actual truth. Her master and 
mistress had started from London on the ninth of May, and 
had got through the greater part of their railway journey, 
when they were suddenly obliged to stop, on Mrs. Frank- 
land s account, at the station of a small town in Somerset 
shire. The little visitor, who was destined to increase the 
domestic responsibilities of the young married couple, had 
chosen to enter on the scene, in the character of a robust boy- 
baby, a month earlier than he had been expected, and had 
modestly preferred to make his first appearance in a small 
Somersetshire inn, rather than wait to be ceremoniously wel 
comed to life in the great house of Porthgenna, which he 
was one day to inherit. 

Very few events had ever produced a greater sensation in 
the town of West Winston than the one small event of the 
unexpected stoppage of Mr. and Mrs. Frankland s journey at 
that place. Never since the last election had the landlord 
and landlady of the Tiger s Head Hotel bustled about their 
house in such a fever of excitement as possessed them when 
Mr. Frankland s servant and Mrs. Frankland s maid drew up 
at the door in a fly from the station, to announce that their 
master and mistress were behind, and that the largest and 
quietest rooms in the hotel were wanted immediately, under 
the most unexpected circumstances. Never since he had 
triumphantly passed his examination had young Mr. Orridge, 
the new doctor, who had started in life by purchasing the 
West Winston practice, felt such a thrill of pleasurable agita 
tion pervade him from top to toe as when he heard that the 
wife of a blind gentleman of great fortune had been taken ill 



THE DEAD SECRET. 97 

on the railway journey from London to Devonshire, and re 
quired all that his skill and attention could do for her with 
out a moment s delay. Never since the last archery meet 
ing and fancy fair had the ladies of the town been favored 
with such an all-absorbing subject for conversation as was 
now afforded to them by Mrs. Frankland s mishap. Fabu 
lous accounts of the wife s beauty and the husband s fortune 
poured from the original source of the Tiger s Head, and 
trickled through the highways and byways of the little town. 
There were a dozen different reports, one more elaborately 
false than the other, about Mr. Fraukland s blindness, and the 
cause of it; about the lamentable condition in which his wife 
had arrived at the hotel ; and about the painful sense of re 
sponsibility which had unnerved the inexperienced Mr. Or- 
ridge from the first moment when he set eyes on his patient. 
It was not till eight o clock in the evening that the public 
mind was relieved at last from all suspense by an announce 
ment that the child was born, and screaming lustily; that 
the mother was wonderfully well, considering all things; and 
that Mr. Orridge had covered himself with distinction by the 
skill, tenderness, and attention with which he had performed 
his duties. 

On the next day, and the next, and for a week after that, 
the accounts were still favorable. But on the tenth day a 
catastrophe was reported. The nurse who was in attendance 
on Mrs. Frankland had been suddenly taken ill, and was ren 
dered quite incapable of performing any further service for 
at least a week to come, and perhaps for a much longer pe 
riod. 

In a large tow r n this misfortune might have been readily 
remedied, but in a place like West Winston it was not so 
easy to supply the loss of an experienced nurse at a few hours 
notice. When Mr. Orridge was consulted in the new emer 
gency, he candidly acknowledged that he required a little 
time for consideration before he could undertake to find an 
other professed nurse of sufficient character and experience 
to wait on a lady like Mrs. Frankland. Mr. Frankland sug 
gested telegraphing to a medical friend in London for a nurse, 
but the doctor was unwilling for many reasons to adopt that 
plan, except as a last resource. It would take some time to 
find the right person, and to send her to West Winston and, 



98 THE DEAD SECRET. 

moreover, he would infinitely prefer employing a woman with 
whose character and capacity he was himself acquainted. 
He therefore proposed that Mrs. Frankland should be trusted 
for a few hours to the care of her maid, under supervision of 
the landlady of the Tiger s Head, while he made inquiries in 
the neighborhood. If the inquiries produced no satisfactory 
result, he should be ready, when he called in the evening, to 
adopt Mr. Frankland s idea of telegraphing to London for a 
nurse. 

On proceeding to make the investigation that he had pro 
posed, Mr. Orridge, although he spared no trouble, met with 
no success. He found plenty of volunteers for the office of 
nurse, but they were all loud-voiced, clumsy-handed, heavy- 
footed countrywomen, kind and willing enough, but sadly 
awkward, blundering attendants to place at the bedside of 
such a lady as Mrs. Frankland. The morning hours passed 
away, and the afternoon came, and still Mr. Orridge had found 
no substitute for the invalided nurse whom he could venture 
to engage. 

At two o clock he had half an hour s drive before him to a 
country-house where he had a child-patient to see. "Per 
haps I may remember somebody who may do, on the way 
out or on the way back again," thought Mr. Orridge, as he 
got into his gig. "I have som,e hours at my disposal still, 
before the time comes for my evening visit at the inn." 

Puzzling his brains, with the best intention in the world, 
all along the road to the country-house, Mr. Orridge reached 
his destination without having arrived at any other conclu 
sion than that he might just as well state his difficulty to Mrs. 
Norbury, the lady whose child he was about to prescribe for. 
He had called on her when he bought the West Winston 
practice, and had found her one of those frank, good-humored, 
middle-aged women who are generally designated by the 
epithet "motherly." Her husband was a country squire, fa 
mous for his old politics, his old stories, and his old wine. 
He had seconded his wife s hearty reception of the new doc 
tor, with all the usual jokes about never giving him any em 
ployment, and never letting any bottles into the house except 
the bottles that went down into the cellar. Mr. Orridge had 
been amused by the husband and pleased with the wife ; and 
he thought it might be at least worth while, before he gave 



THE DEAD SECRET. 99 

up all hope of finding a fit nurse, to ask Mrs. Norbury, as an 
old resident in the West Winston neighborhood, for a word 
of advice. 

Accordingly, after seeing the child, and pronouncing that 
there were no symptoms about the little patient which need 
cause the slightest alarm to any body, Mr. Orridge paved the 
way for a statement of the difficulty that beset him by ask 
ing Mrs. Norbury if she had heard of the "interesting event" 
that had happened at the Tiger s Head. 

" You mean," answered Mrs. Norbury, who was a down 
right woman, and a resolute speaker of the plainest possible 
English "You mean, have I heard about that poor unfortu 
nate lady who was taken ill on her journey, and who had a 
child born at the inn ? We have heard so much, and no more 
living as we do (thank Heaven !) out of reach of the West 
Winston gossip. How is the lady? Who is she? Is the 
child well? Is she tolerably comfortable? poor thing ! Can 
I send her any thing, or do any thing for her?" 

" You w r ould do a great thing for her, and render a great 
assistance to me," said Mr. Orridge, "if you could tell me of 
any respectable woman in this neighborhood who would be 
a proper nurse for her." 

" You don t mean to say that the poor creature has not got 
a nurse !" exclaimed Mrs. Norbury. 

" She has had the best nurse in West Winston," replied 
Mr. Orridge. " But, most unfortunately, the woman was tak 
en ill this morning, and was obliged to go home. I am now 
at my wit s end for somebody to supply her place. Mrs. 
Frankland has been used to the luxury of being well waited 
on ; and where I am to find an attendant, who is likely to 
satisfy her, is more than I can tell." 

" Frankland, did you say her name w^as ?" inquired Mrs. 
Norbury. 

"Yes. She is, I understand, a daughter of that Captain 
Treverton who was lost with his ship a year ago in the 
West Indies. Perhaps you may remember the account of the 
disaster in the newspapers ?" 

" Of course I do ! and I remember the Captain too. I was 
acquainted with him when he was a young man, at Ports 
mouth. His daughter and I ought not to be strangers, espe 
cially under such circumstances as the poor thing is placed 

E2 



100 THE DEAD SECRET. 

in now. I will call at the inn, Mr. Orridge, as soon as you 
will allow me to introduce myself to her. But, in the mean 
time, what is to be done in this difficulty about the nurse? 
Who is with Mrs. Frankland now ?" 

" Her maid ; but she is a very young woman, and doesn t 
understand nursing duties. The landlady of the inn is ready 
to help when she can ; but then she has constant demands on 
her time and attention. I suppose we shall have to telegraph 
to London and get somebody sent here by railway." 

"And that will take time, of course. And the new nurse 
may turn out to be a drunkard or a thief, or both when you 
have got her here," said the outspoken Mrs. Norbury. " Dear, 
dear me! can t we do something better than that? I am 
ready, I am sure, to take any trouble, or make any sacrifice, 
if I can be of use to Mrs. Frankland. Do you know, Mr. Or 
ridge, I think it would be a good plan if we consulted my 
housekeeper, Mrs. Jazeph. She is an odd woman, with an 
odd name, you will say ; but she has lived with me in this 
house more than five years, and she may know of somebody 
in our neighborhood who might suit you, though I don t." 
With those words, Mrs. Norbury rang the bell, and ordered 
the servant who answered it to tell Mrs. Jazeph that she was 
wanted up stairs immediately. 

After the lapse of a minute or so a soft knock was heard 
at the door, and the housekeeper entered the room. 

Mr. Orridge looked at her, the moment she appeared, with 
an interest and curiosity for which he was hardly able to ac 
count. He judged her, at a rough guess, to be a woman of 
about fifty years of age. At the first glance, his medical eye 
detected that some of the intricate machinery of the nervous 
system had gone wrong with Mrs. Jazeph. He noted the 
painful working of the muscles of her face, and the hectic 
flush that flew into her cheeks when she entered the room 
and found a visitor there. He observed a strangely scared 
look in her eyes, and remarked that it did not leave them 
when the rest of her face became gradually composed. " That 
w r oman has had some dreadful fright, some great grief, or 
some wasting complaint," he thought to himself. " I wonder 
which it is ?" 

" This is Mr. Orridge, the medical gentleman who has late 
ly settled at West Winston," said Mrs. Norbury, addressing 



THE DEAD SECRET. 101 

the housekeeper. "He is in attendance cm a lady wlio was 
obliged to stop, on her journey westward, at our station, and 
who is now staying at the Tiger s Head. You have heard 
something about it, have you not, Mrs. Jazeph ?" 

Mrs. Jazeph, standing just inside the door, looked respect 
fully toward the doctor, and answered in the affirmative. Al 
though she only said the two common words, " Yes, ma am," 
in a quiet, uninterested way, Mr. Orridge was struck by the 
sweetness and tenderness of her voice. If he had not been 
looking at her, he would have supposed it to be the voice of a 
young woman. His eyes remained fixed on her after she had 
spoken, though he felt that they ought to have been look 
ing toward her mistress. He, the most unobservant of men 
in such things, found himself noticing her dress, so that he 
remembered, long afterward, the form of the spotless muslin 
cap that primly covered her smooth gray hair, and the quiet 
brown color of the silk dress that fitted so neatly and hung 
around her in such spare and disciplined folds. The little 
confusion which she evidently felt at finding herself the ob 
ject of the doctor s attention did not betray her into the 
slightest awkwardness of gesture or manner. If there can be 
such a thing, physically speaking, as the grace of restraint, 
that was the grace which seemed to govern Mrs. Jazeph s 
slightest movements; which led her feet smoothly over the 
carpet, as she advanced when her mistress next spoke to her ; 
which governed the action of her wan right hand as it rested 
lightly on a table by her side, while she stopped to hear the 
next question that was addressed to her. 

" Well," continued Mrs. Norbury, " this poor lady was just 
getting on comfortably, when the nurse who was looking 
after her fell ill this morning ; and there she is now, in a 
strange place, with a first child, and no proper attendance 
no woman of age and experience to help her as she ought to 
be helped. We want somebody fit to wait on a delicate 
woman who has seen nothing of the rough side of humanity. 
Mr. Orridge can find nobody at a day s notice, and I can tell 
him of nobody. Can you help us, Mrs. Jazeph? Are there 
any women down in the village, or among Mr. Norbury s 
tenants, who understand nursing, and have some tact and 
tenderness to recommend them into the bargain?" 

Mrs. Jazeph reflected for a little while, and then said, very 



102 THS DEAD SECRET. 

respectfully, but Very briefly also, and still without any ap 
pearance of interest in her manner, that she knew of no one 
whom she could recommend. 

" Don t make too sure of that till you have thought a little 

longer," said Mrs. Norbury. " I have a particular interest in 

. serving this lady, for Mr. Orridge told me just before you 

came in that she is the daughter of Captain Treverton, whose 

shipwreck " 

The instant those words were spoken, Mrs. Jazeph turned 
round with a start, and looked at the doctor. Apparently 
forgetting that her right hand was on the table, she moved 
it so suddenly that it struck against a bronze statuette of a 
dog placed on some writing materials. The statuette fell to 
the ground, and Mrs. Jazeph stooped to pick it up with a cry 
of alarm which seemed strangely exaggerated by comparison 
with the trifling nature of the accident. 

"Bless the woman! what is she frightened about?" ex 
claimed Mrs. Norbury. " The dog is not hurt put it back 
I again ! This is the first time, Mrs. Jazeph, that I ever knew 
i you do an awkward thing. You may take that as a com 
pliment, I think. "Well, as I was saying, this lady is the 
daughter of Captain Treverton, whose dreadful shipwreck 
we all read about in the papers. I knew her father in my 
early days, and on that account I am doubly anxious to be 
of service to her now. Do think again. Is there nobody 
within reach who can be trusted to nurse her?" 

The doctor, still watching Mrs. Jazeph with that secret 
medical interest of his in her case, .had seen her turn so 
deadly pale when she started and looked toward him that 
he would not have been surprised if she had fainted on the 
spot. He now observed that she changed color again when 
her mistress left off speaking. The hectic red tinged her 
cheeks once more with two bright spots. Her timid eyes 
wandered uneasily about the room; and her fingers, as she 
clasped her hands together, interlaced themselves mechanic 
ally. tc That would be an interesting case to treat," thought 
the doctor, following every nervous movement of the house 
keeper s hands with watchful eyes. 

"Do think again," repeated Mrs. ISTorbury. "I am so 
anxious to help this poor lady through her difficulty, if I 



THE PEAD SECRET. 103 

"I am very sorry," said Mrs. Jazcph, in faint, trembling 
tones, but still always with the same sweetness in her voice 
" very sorry that I can think of no one who is fit ; but 

She stopped. No shy child on its first introduction to the 
society of strangers could have looked more disconcerted 
than she looked now. Her eyes were on the ground ; her 
color was deepening; the fingers of her clasped hands were 
working together faster and faster every moment. 

" But what ?" asked Mrs. Norbury. 

" I was about to say, ma am," answered Mrs. Jazeph, speak 
ing with the greatest difficulty and uneasiness, and never rais 
ing her eyes to her mistress s face, " that, rather than this lady 
should want for a nurse, I would considering the interest, 
ma am, which you take in her I would, if you thought you 
could spare me " 

"What, nurse her yourself!" exclaimed Mrs. Norbury. 
"Upon my word, although you have got to it in rather a 
roundabout way, you have come to the point at last, in a man 
ner which does infinite credit to your kindness of heart and 
your readiness to make yourself useful. As to sparing you, 
of course I am not so selfish, under the circumstances, as to 
think twice of the inconvenience of losing my housekeeper. 
But the question is, are you competent as well as willing ? 
Have you ever had any practice in nursing ?" 

" Yes, ma am," answered Mrs. Jazeph, still without raising 
her eyes from the ground. " Shortly after my marriage" (the 
flush disappeared, and her face turned pale again as she said 
those words), " I had some practice in nursing, and continued 
it at intervals until the time of my husband s death. I only 
presume to offer myself, Sir," she went on, turning toward 
the doctor, and becoming more earnest and self-possessed in 
her manner as she did so " I only presume to offer myself, 
with my mistress s permission, as a substitute for a nurse 
until some better qualified person can be found." 

" What do you say, Mr. Orridge ?" asked Mrs. Norbury. 

It had been the doctor s turn to start when he first heard 
Mrs. Jazeph propose herself for the office of nurse. He hesi 
tated before he answered Mrs. Norbury s question, then said: 

" I can have but one doubt about the propriety of thank 
fully accepting Mrs. Jazeph s offer." 

Mrs. Jazeph s timid eyes looked anxiously and perplexedly 



104 THE DEAD SECRET. 

at him as he spoke. Mrs. Norbury, in her downright, abrupt 
way, asked immediately what the doubt was. 

" I feel some uncertainty," replied Mr. Orridge, " as to 
whether Mrs. Jazeph she will pardon me, as a medical man, 
for mentioning it as to whether Mrs. Jazeph is strong 
enough, and has her nerves sufficiently under control to per 
form the duties which she is so kindly ready to undertake." 

In spite of the politeness of the explanation, Mrs. Jazeph 
was evidently disconcerted and distressed by it. A certain 
quiet, uncomplaining sadness, which it was very touching to 
see, overspread her face as she turned away, without another 
word, and walked slowly to the door. 

" Don t go yet !" cried Mrs. Norbury, kindly, "or, at least, 
if you do go, come back again in five minutes. I am quite 
certain we shall have something more to say to you then." 

Mrs. Jazeph s eyes expressed her thanks in one grateful 
glance. They looked so much brighter than usual while they 
rested on her mistress s face, that Mrs. Norbury half doubted 
whether the tears were not just rising in them at that mo 
ment. Before she could look again, Mrs. Jazeph had courte- 
sied to the doctor, and had noiselessly left the room. 

"Now we are alone, Mr. Orridge," said Mrs. Norbury, "I 
may tell you, with all submission to your medical judgment, 
that you are a little exaggerating Mrs. Jazeph s nervous infir 
mities. She looks poorly enough,! own; but, after five years 
experience of her, I can tell you that she is stronger than she 
looks, and I honestly think you will be doing good service to 
Mrs. Frankland if you try our volunteer nurse, at least for a 
day or two. She is the gentlest, tenderest creature I ever 
met with, and conscientious to a fault in the performance of 
any duty that she undertakes. Don t be under any delicacy 
about taking her away. I gave a dinner-party last week, and 
shall not give another for some time to come. I never could 
have spared my housekeeper more easily than I can spare 
her now." 

" I am sure I may offer Mrs. Frankland s thanks to you as 
well as my own," said Mr. Orridge. " After what you have 
said, it would be ungracious and ungrateful in me not to fol 
low your advice. But will you excuse me if I ask one ques 
tion ? Did you ever hear that Mrs. Jazeph was subject to 
fits of any kind?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 105 

" Never." 

" Not even to hysterical affections, now and then ?" 

" Never, since she has been in this house." 

" You surprise me, there is something in her look and man 
ner" 

" Yes, yes ; every body remarks that at first ; but it simply 
means that she is in delicate health, and that she has not led 
a very happy life (as I suspect) in her younger days. The 
lady from whom I had her (with an excellent character) told 
me that she had married unhappily, when she was in a sadly 
poor, unprotected state. She never says any thing about her 
married troubles herself; but I believe her husband ill-used 
her. However, it does not seem to me that this is our busi 
ness. I can only tell you again that she has been an excellent 
servant here for the last five years, and that, in your place, 
poorly as she may look, I should consider her as the best 
nurse that Mrs. Frankland could possibly wish for, under the 
circumstances. There is no need for me to say any more. 
Take Mrs. Jazeph, or telegraph to London for a stranger 
the decision of course rests with you." 

Mr. Orridge thought he detected a slight tone of irritability 
in Mrs. Norbury s last sentence. He was a prudent man ; and 
he suppressed any doubts he might still feel in reference to 
Mrs. Jazeph s physical capacities for nursing, rather than risk 
offending the most important lady in the neighborhood at the 
outset of his practice in West Winston as a medical man. 

"I can not hesitate a moment after what you have been good 
enough to tell me," he said. " Pray believe that I gratefully 
accept your kindness and your housekeeper s offer." 

Mrs. Norbury rang the bell. It was answered on the in 
stant by the housekeeper herself. 

The doctor wondered whether she had been listening out 
side the door, and thought it rather strange, if she had, that 
she should be so anxious to learn his decision. 

"Mr. Orridge accepts your offer with thanks," said Mrs. 
Norbury, beckoning to Mrs. Jazeph to advance into the room. 
" I have persuaded him that you are not quite so weak and 
ill as you look." 

A gleam of joyful surprise broke over the housekeeper s 
face. It looked suddenly younger by years and years, as she 
smiled and expressed her grateful sense of the trust that was 



106 THE DEAD SECRET. 

about to be reposed in her. For the first time, also, since the 
doctor had seen her, she ventured on speaking before she was 
spoken to. 

" When will my attendance be required, Sir ?" she asked. 

" As soon as possible," replied Mr. Orridge. How quickly 
and brightly her dim eyes seemed to clear as she heard that 
answer ! How much more hasty than her usual movements 
was the movement with which she now turned round and 
looked appealingly at her mistress ! 

" Go whenever Mr. Orridge wants you," said Mrs. Nor- 
bury. " I know your accounts are always in order, and your 
keys always in their proper places. You never make con 
fusion and you never leave confusion. Go, by all means, as 
soon as the doctor wants you." 

"I suppose you have some preparations to make?" said 
Mr. Orridge. 

" None, Sir, that need delay me more than half an hour," 
answered Mrs. Jazeph. 

" This evening will be early enough," said the doctor, tak 
ing his hat, and bowing to Mrs. Norbury. " Come to the 
Tiger s Head, and ask for me. I shall be there between seven 
and eight. Many thanks again, Mrs. Norbury." 

" My best washes and compliments to your patient, doctor." 

" At the Tiger s Head, between seven and eight this even 
ing," reiterated Mr. Orridge, as the housekeeper opened the 
door for him. 

" Between seven and eight, Sir," repeated the soft, sweet 
voice, sounding younger than ever, now that there was an 
under-note of pleasure running through its tones. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE NEW NURSE. 

As the clock struck seven, Mr. Orridge put on his hat to 
go to the Tiger s Head. He had just opened his own door, 
when he was met on the step by a messenger, who summoned 
him immediately to a case of sudden illness in the poor quar 
ter of the town. The inquiries he made satisfied him that the 
appeal was really of an urgent nature, and that there was no 
help for it but to delay his attendance for a little while at 



THE DEAD SECRET. 107 

the inn. On reaching the bedside of the patient, he dis 
covered symptoms in the case which rendered an immediate 
operation necessary. The performance of this professional 
duty occupied some time. It was a quarter to eight before 
he left his house, for the second time, on his way to the 
Tiger s Head. 

On entering the inn door, he was informed that the new 
nurse had arrived as early as seven o clock, and had been 
waiting for him in a room by herself ever since. Having re 
ceived no orders from Mr. Orridge, the landlady had thought 
it safest not to introduce the stranger to Mrs. Frankland be 
fore the doctor came. 

" Did she ask to go up into Mrs. Frankland s room ?" in 
quired Mr. Orridge. 

" Yes, Sir," replied the landlady. "And I thought she 
seemed rather put out when I said that I must beg her to 
wait till you got here. Will you step this way, and see her 
at once, Sir ? She is in my parlor." 

Mr. Orridge followed the landlady into a little room at the 
back of the house, and found Mrs. Jazeph sitting alone in the 
corner farthest from the window. He was rather surprised 
to see that she drew her veil down the moment the door was 
opened. 

" I am sorry you should have been kept waiting," he said ; 
" but I was called away to a patient. Besides, I told you 
between seven and eight, if you remember; and it is not 
eight o clock yet." 

" I was very anxious to be in good time, Sir," said Mrs. 
Jazeph. 

There was an accent of restraint in the quiet tones in 
which she spoke which struck Mr. Orridge s ear, and a little 
perplexed him. She was, apparently, not only afraid that 
her face might betray something, but apprehensive also that 
her voice might tell him more than her w r ords expressed. 
What feeling was she anxious to conceal ? Was it irritation 
at having been kept waiting so long by herself in the land 
lady s room? 

" If you will follow me," said Mr. Orridge, " I will take you 
to Mrs. Frankland immediately." 

Mrs. Jazeph rose slowly, and, when she was on her feet, 
rested her hand for an instant on a table near her. That 



108 THE DEAD SECRET. 

action, momentary as it was, helped to confirm the doctor in 
his conviction of her physical unfitness for the position which 
she had volunteered to occupy. 

" You seem tired," he said, as he led the way out of the 
door. " Surely, you did not walk all the way here ?" 

" No, Sir. My mistress was so kind as to let one of the 
servants drive me in the pony-chaise." There was the same 
restraint in her voice as she made that answer; and still she 
never attempted to lift her veil. While ascending the inn 
stairs Mr. Orridge mentally resolved to watch her first pro 
ceedings in Mrs. Frankland s room closely, and to send, after 
all, for the London nurse, unless Mrs. Jazeph showed remark 
able aptitude in the performance of her new duties. 

The room which Mrs. Frankland occupied was situated at 
the back of the house, having been chosen in that position 
with the object of removing her as much as possible from 
the bustle and noise about the inn door. It was lighted by 
one window overlooking a few cottages, beyond which spread 
the rich grazing grounds of West Somersetshire, bounded by 
a long monotonous line of thickly wooded hills. The bed 
was of the old-fashioned kind, with the customary four posts 
and the inevitable damask curtains. It projected from the 
wall into the middle of the room, in such a situation as to 
keep the door on the right hand of the person occupying it, 
the window on the left, and the fire-place opposite the foot 
of the bed. On the side of the bed nearest the window the 
curtains were open, while at the foot, and on the side near 
the door, they were closely drawn. By this arrangement the 
interior of the bed was necessarily concealed from the view 
of any person on first entering the room. 

" How do you find yourself to-night, Mrs. Frankland ?" 
asked Mr. Orridge, reaching out his hand to undraw the cur 
tains. " Do you think you will be any the worse for a little 
freer circulation of air ?" 

" On the contrary, doctor, I shall be all the better," was 
the answer. " But I am afraid in case you have ever been 
disposed to consider me a sensible woman that my charac 
ter will suffer a little in your estimation when you see how 
I have been occupying myself for the last hour." 

Mr. Orridge smiled as he undrew the curtains, and laughed 
outright when he looked at the mother and child. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 109 

Mrs. Frankland had been amusing herself, and gratifying 
her taste for bright colors, by dressing out her baby with 
blue ribbons as he lay asleep. lie had a necklace, shoulder- 
knots, and bracelets, all of blue ribbon ; and, to complete the 
quaint finery of his costume, his mother s smart little lace 
cap had been hitched comically on one side of his head. 
Rosamond herself, as if determined to vie with the baby in 
gayety of dress, wore a light pink jacket, ornamented down 
the bosom and over the sleeves with bows of white satin rib 
bon. Laburnum blossoms, gathered that morning, lay scat 
tered about over the white counterpane, intermixed with 
some flowers of the lily of the valley, tied up into two nose 
gays with strips of cherry-colored ribbon. Over this varied 
assemblage of colors, over the baby s smoothly rounded 
cheeks and arms, over his mother s happy, youthful face, the 
tender light of the May evening poured tranquil and warm. 
Thoroughly appreciating the charm of the picture which he 
had disclosed on undrawing the curtains, the doctor stood 
looking at it for a few moments, quite forgetful of the errand 
that had brought him into the room. He was only recalled 
to a remembrance of the new nurse by a chance question 
which Mrs. Frankland addressed to him. 

" I can t help it, doctor," said Rosamond, with a look of 
apology. " I really can t help treating my baby, now I am 
a grown woman, just as I used to treat my doll when I was 
a little girl. Did any body come into the room with you? 
Lenny, are you there ? Have you done dinner, darling, and 
did you drink my health when you were left at dessert all 
by yourself?" 

" Mr. Frankland is still at dinner," said the doctor. " But 
I certainly brought some one into the room with me. Where, 
in the name of wonder, has she gone to ? Mrs. Jazeph !" 

The housekeeper had slipped round to the part of the room 
between the foot of the bed and the fire-place, where she was 
hidden by the curtains that still remained drawn. When 
Mr. Orridge called to her, instead of joining him where he 
stood, opposite the window, she appeared at the other side 
of the bed, where the window was behind her. Her shadow 
stole darkly over the bright picture which the doctor had been 
admiring. It stretched obliquely across the counterpane, and 
its dusky edges touched the figures of the mother and child. 



110 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Gracious goodness ! who are you ?" exclaimed Rosamond. 
" A woman or a ghost ?" 

Mrs. Jazeph s veil was up at last. Although her face was 
necessarily in shadow in the position which she had chosen 
to occupy, the doctor saw a change pass over it when Mrs. 
Frankland spoke. The lips dropped and quivered a little ; 
the marks of care and age about the mouth deepened ; and 
the eyebrows contracted suddenly. The eyes Mr. Orridge 
could not see; they were cast down on the counterpane at 
the first word that Rosamond uttered. Judging by the light 
of his medical experience, the doctor concluded that she was 
suffering pain, and trying to suppress any outward manifes 
tation of it. " An affection of the heart, most likely," he 
thought to himself. " She has concealed it from her mistress, 
but she can t hide it from me." 

"Who are you?" repeated Rosamond. "And what in the 
world do you stand there for between us and the sunlight?" 

Mrs. Jazeph neither answered nor raised her eyes. She 
only moved back timidly to the farthest corner of the win 
dow. 

"Did you not get a message from me this afternoon?" ask 
ed the doctor, appealing to Mrs. Frankland. 

" To be sure I did," replied Rosamond. "A very kind, flat 
tering message about a new nurse." 

"There she is," said Mr. Orridge, pointing across the bed 
to Mrs. Jazeph. 

" You don t say so !" exclaimed Rosamond. " But of course 
it must be. Who else could have come in with you ? I ought 
to have known that. Pray come here (what is her name, 
doctor? Joseph, did you say? No ? Jazeph?) pray come 
nearer, Mrs. Jazeph, and let me apologize for speaking so ab 
ruptly to you. I am more obliged than I can say for your 
kindness in coming here, and for your mistress s good-nature 
in resigning you to me. I hope I shall not give you much 
trouble, and I am sure you will find the baby easy to manage. 
He is a perfect angel, and sleeps like a dormouse. Dear me ! 
now I look at you a little closer, I am afraid you are in very 
delicate health yourself. Doctor, if Mrs. Jazeph would not 
be offended with me, I should almost feel inclined to say that 
she looks in want of nursing herself." 

Mrs. Jazeph bent down over the laburnum blossoms on the 



THE DEAD SECRET. Ill 

bed, and began hurriedly and confusedly to gather them to 
gether. 

" I thought as you do, Mrs. Frankland," said Mr. Orridge. 
" But I have been assured that Mrs. Jazeph s looks belie her, 
and that her capabilities as a nurse quite equal her zeal." 

"Are you going to make all that laburnum into a nose 
gay?" asked Mrs. Frankland, noticing how the new nurse was 
occupying herself. " How thoughtful of you ! and how mag 
nificent it will be ! I am afraid you will find the room very 
untidy. I will ring for my maid to set it to rights." 

"If you will allow me to put it in order, ma am, I shall be 
very glad to begin being of use to you in that way," said Mrs. 
Jazeph. When she made the offer she looked up ; and her 
eyes and Mrs. Frankland s met. Rosamond instantly drew 
back on the pillow, and her color altered a little. 

" How strangely you look at me !" she said. 

Mrs. Jazeph started at the words, as if something had 
struck her, and moved away suddenly to the window. 

" You are not offended with me, I hope?" said Rosamond, 
noticing the action. " I have a sad habit of saying any thing 
that comes uppermost. And I really thought you looked just 
now as if you saw something about me that frightened or 
grieved you. Pray put the room in order, if you are kindly 
willing to undertake the trouble. And never mind what I 
say ; you will soon get used to my ways and we shall be as 
comfortable and friendly " 

Just as Mrs. Frankland said the words " comfortable and 
friendly," the new nurse left the window, and went back to 
the part of the room where she was hidden from view, be 
tween the fire-place and the closed curtains at the foot of the 
bed. Rosamond looked round to express her surprise to the 
doctor, but he turned away at the same moment so as to oc 
cupy a position which might enable him to observe what 
Mrs. Jazeph was doing on the other side of the bed-curtains. 

When he first caught sight of her, her hands were both 
raised to her face. Before he could decide whether he had 
surprised her in the act of clasping them over her eyes or not, 
they changed their position, and were occupied in removing 
her bonnet. After she had placed this part of her wearing 
apparel, and her shawl and gloves, on a chair in a corner of 
the room, she went to the dressing-table, and began to ar- 



112 THE DEAD SECRET. 

range the various useful and ornamental objects scattered 
about it. She set them in order with remarkable dexterity 
and neatness, showing a taste for arrangement, and a capac 
ity for discriminating between things that were likely to be 
wanted and things that were not, which impressed Mr. Or- 
ridge very favorably. He particularly noticed the careful- 
.ness with which she handled some bottles of physic, reading 
the labels on each, and arranging the medicine that might 
be required at night on one side of the table, and the medi 
cine that might be required in the day-time on the other. 
When she left the dressing-table, and occupied herself in set 
ting the furniture straight, and in folding up articles of cloth 
ing that had been thrown on one side, not the slightest move 
ment of her thin, wasted hands seemed ever to be made at 
hazard or in vain. Noiselessly, modestly, observantly, she 
moved from side to side of the room, and neatness and order 
followed her steps wherever she went. When Mr. Orridgo 
resumed his place at Mrs. Frankland s bedside, his mind was 
at ease on one point at least it was perfectly evident that 
the new nurse could be depended on to make no mistakes. 

" What an odd woman she is," whispered Rosamond. 

" Odd, indeed," returned Mr. Orridge, " and desperately 
broken in health, though she may not confess to it. How 
ever, she is wonderfully neat-handed and careful, and there 
can be no harm in trying her for one night that is to say, 
unless you feel any objection." 

"On the contrary," said Rosamond, " she rather interests 
me. There is something in her face and manner I can t say 
what that makes me feel curious to know more of her. I 
must get her to talk, and try if I can t bring out all her pe 
culiarities. Don t be afraid of my exciting myself, and don t 
stop here in this dull room on my account. I would much 
rather you went down stairs, and kept my husband company 
over his wine. Do go and talk to him, and amuse him a little 
he must be so dull, poor fellow, while I am up here ; and he 
likes you, Mr. Orridge he does, very much. Stop one mo 
ment, and just look at the baby again. He doesn t take a 
dangerous quantity of sleep, does he ? And, Mr. Orridge, one 
word more : When you have done your wine, you will promise 
to lend my husband the use of your eyes, and bring him up 
stairs to wish me good-night, won t you?" 



TIIE DEAD SECRET. 113 

Willingly engaging to pay attention to Mrs. Frankland s 
request, Mr. Orridgc left the bedside. 

As he opened the room door, he stopped to tell Mrs. Jazeph 
that he should be down stairs if she wanted him, and that 
he would give her any instructions of which she might stand 
in need later in the evening, before he left the inn for the 
night. The new nurse, when he passed by her, was kneeling 
over one of Mrs. Frankland s open trunks, arranging some ar 
ticles of clothing which had been rather carelessly folded up. 
Just before he spoke to her, he observed that she had a chem 
isette in her hand, the frill of which was laced through with 
ribbon. 

One end of this ribbon she appeared to him to be on the 
point of drawing out, when the sound of his footsteps disturb 
ed her. The moment she became aware of his approach she 
dropped the chemisette suddenly in the trunk, and covered 
it over with some handkerchiefs. Although this proceeding 
on Mrs. Jazeph s part rather surprised the doctor, he abstain 
ed from showing that he had noticed it. Her mistress had 
vouched for her character, after five years experience of it, 
and the bit of ribbon was intrinsically worthless. On both 
accounts, it was impossible to suspect her of attempting to 
steal it ; and yet, as Mr. Orridge could not help feeling when 
he had left the room, her conduct, when he surprised her over 
the trunk, was exactly the conduct of a person who is about 
to commit a theft. 

"Pray don t trouble yourself about my luggage," said Ros 
amond, remarking Mrs. Jazeph s occupation as soon as the 
doctor had gone. "That is my idle maid s business, and you 
will only make her more careless than ever if you do it for 
her. I am sure the room is beautifully set in order. Come 
here and sit down and rest yourself. You must be a very 
unselfish, kind-hearted woman to give yourself all this trouble 
to serve a stranger. The doctor s message this afternoon 
told me that your mistress was a friend of my poor, dear fa 
ther s. I suppose she must have known him before my time. 
Any way, I feel doubly grateful to her for taking an interest 
in me for my father s sake. But you can have no such feel 
ing ; you must have come here from pure good-nature and 
anxiety to help others. Don t go away, there, to the win 
dow. Come and sit down by me." 



114 THE DEAD SECEET. 

Mrs. Jazeph had risen from the trunk, and was approach 
ing the bedside when she suddenly turned away in the di 
rection of the fire-place, just as Mrs. Frankland began to speak 
of her father. 

" Come and sit here," reiterated Rosamond, getting impa 
tient at receiving no answer. " What in the world are you 
doing there at the foot of the bed ?" 

The figure of the new nurse again interposed between the 
bed and the fading evening light that glimmered through the 
window before there was any reply. 

"The evening is closing in," said Mrs. Jazeph, " and the 
window is not quite shut. I was thinking of making it fast, 
and of drawing down the blind if you had no objection, 
ma am ?" 

" Oh, not yet ! not yet ! Shut the window, if you please, 
in case the baby should catch cold, but don t draw down the 
blind. Let me get my peep at the view as long as there is 
any light left to see it by. That long flat stretch of grazing- 
ground out there is just beginning, at this dim time, to look 
a little like my childish recollections of a Cornish moor. Do 
you know any thing about Cornwall, Mrs. Jazeph ?" 

"I have heard " "At those first three words of reply the 
nurse stopped. She was just then engaged in shutting the 
window, and she seemed to find some difficulty in closing the 
lock. 

"What have you heard?" asked Rosamond. 

" I have heard that Cornwall is a wild, dreary country," 
said Mrs. Jazeph, still busying herself with the lock of the 
window, and, by consequence, still keeping her back turned 
to Mrs. Frankland. 

"Can t you shut the window, yet ?" said Rosamond. " My 
maid always does it quite easily. Leave it till she comes up 
I am going to ring for her directly. I want her to brush my 
hair and cool my face with a little Eau de Cologne and water." 

" I have shut it, ma am," said Mrs. Jazeph, suddenly suc 
ceeding in closing the lock. " And if you will allow me, I 
should be very glad to make you comfortable for the night, 
and save you the trouble of ringing for the maid." 

Thinking the new nurse the oddest woman she had ever 
met with, Mrs. Frankland accepted the offer. By the time 
Mrs. Jazeph had prepared the Eau de Cologne and water, the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 115 

twilight was falling softly over the landscape outside, and the 
room was beginning to grow dark. 

"Had you not better light a candle?" suggested Rosamond. 

" I think not, ma am," said Mrs. Jazeph, rather hastily. 
"I can see quite well without." 

She began to brush Mrs. Frankland s hair as- she spoke ; 
and, at the same time, asked a question which referred to the 
few words that had passed between them on the subject of 
Cornwall. Pleased to find that the new nurse had grown 
familiar enough at last to speak before she was spoken to, 
Rosamond desired nothing better than to talk about her 
recollections of her native country. But, from some inex 
plicable reason, Mrs. Jazeph s touch, light and tender as it 
was, had such a strangely disconcerting effect on her, that 
she could not succeed, for the moment, in collecting her 
thoughts so as to reply, except in the briefest manner. The 
careful hands of the nurse lingered with a stealthy gentle 
ness among the locks of her hair; the pale, wasted face of the 
new nurse approached, every now and then, more closely to 
her own than appeared at all needful. A vague sensation of 
uneasiness, which she could not trace to any particular part 
of her which she could hardly say that she really felt, in a 
bodily sense, at all seemed to be floating about her, to be 
hanging around and over her, like the air she breathed. She 
could not move, though she wanted to move in the bed ; she 
could not turn her head so as to humor the action of the 
brush ; she could not look round ; she could not break the 
embarrassing silence which had been caused by her own 
short, discouraging answer. At last the sense of oppression 
whether fancied or real irritated her into snatching the 
brush out of Mrs. Jazeph s hand. The instant she had done 
so, she felt ashamed of the discourteous abruptness of the 
action, and confused at the alarm and surprise which the 
manner of the nurse exhibited. With the strongest sense 
of the absurdity of her own conduct, and yejb without the 
least power of controlling herself, she burst out laughing, and 
tossed the brush away to the foot of the bed. 

" Pray don t look surprised, Mrs. Jazeph," she said, still 
laughing without knowing why, and without feeling in the 
slightest degree amused. "I m very rude and odd, I know. 
You have brushed my hair delightfully; but I can t tell 

F 



116 THE DEAD SECRET. 

how it seemed, all the time, as if you were brushing the 
strangest fancies into my head. I can t help laughing at 
them I can t indeed ! Do you know, once or twice, I ab 
solutely fancied, when your face was closest to mine, that you 
wanted to kiss me ! Did you ever hear of any thing so ridic 
ulous? I declare I am more of a baby, in some things, than 
the little darling here by my side !" 

Mrs. Jazeph made no answer. She left the bed while Ros 
amond was speaking, and came back, after an unaccountably 
long delay, with the Eau de Cologne and water. As she held 
the basin while Mrs. Frankland bathed her face, she kept 
away at arm s length, and came no nearer when it was time 
to offer the towel. Rosamond began to be afraid that she 
had seriously offended Mrs. Jazeph, and tried to soothe and 
propitiate her by asking questions about the management of 
the baby. There was a slight trembling in the sweet voice 
of the new nurse, but not the faintest tone of sullenness or 
anger, as she simply and quietly answered the inquiries ad 
dressed to her. By dint of keeping the conversation still on 
the subject of the child, Mrs. Frankland succeeded, little by 
little, in luring her back to the bedside in tempting her to 
bend down admiringly over the infant in emboldening her, 
at last, to kiss him tenderly on the cheek. One kiss was all 
that she gave ; and she turned away from the bed, after it, 
and sighed heavily. 

The sound of that sigh fell very sadly on Rosamond s 
heart. Up to this time the baby s little span of life had al 
ways been associated with smiling faces and pleasant words. 
It made her uneasy to think that any one could caress him 
and sigh after it. 

" I am sure you must be fond of children," she said, hesi 
tating a little from natural delicacy of feeling. " But will 
you excuse me for noticing that it seems rather a mournful 
fondness ? Pray pray don t answer my question if it gives 
you any pain if you have any loss to deplore ; but but I 
do so want to ask if you have ever had a child of your own?" 

Mrs. Jazeph was standing near a chair when that question 
was put. She caught fast hold of the back of it, grasping it 
so firmly, or perhaps leaning on it so heavily, that the wood 
work cracked. Her head dropped low on her bosom. She 
did not utter, or even attempt to utter, a single word. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 117 

Fearing that she must have lost a child of her own, and 
dreading to distress her unnecessarily by venturing to ask 
any more questions, Rosamond said nothing, as she stooped 
over the baby to kiss him in her turn. Her lips rested on 
his cheek a little above where Mrs. Jazeph s lips had rested 
the moment before, and they touched a spot of wet on his 
smooth warm skin. Fearing that some of the water in which 
she had been bathing her face might have dropped on him, 
she passed her fingers lightly over his head, neck, and bosom, 
and felt no other spots of wet any where. The one drop 
that had fallen on him was the drop that wetted the cheek 
which the new nurse had kissed. 

The twilight faded over the landscape, the room grew 
darker and darker ; and still, though she was now sitting 
close to the table on which the candles and matches were 
placed, Mrs. Jazeph made no attempt to strike a light. Ros 
amond did not feel quite comfortable at the idea of lying 
awake in the darkness, with nobody in the room but a person 
who was as yet almost a total stranger ; and she resolved to 
have the candles lighted immediately. 

" Mrs. Jazeph," she said, looking toward the gathering ob 
scurity outside the window, "I shall be much obliged to you, 
if you will light the candles and pull down the blind. I can 
trace no more resemblances out there, now, to a Cornish pros 
pect ; the view has gone altogether." 

" Are you very fond of Cornwall, ma am ?" asked Mrs. Ja 
zeph, rising, in rather a dilatory manner, to light the candles. 

" Indeed I am," said Rosamond. " I was born there ; and 
my husband and I were on our way to Cornwall when we 
were obliged to stop, on my account, at this place. You are 
a long time getting the candles lit. Can t you find the 
match-box ?" 

Mrs. Jazeph, with an awkwardness which was rather sur 
prising in a person who had shown so much neat-handedness 
in setting the room to rights, broke the first match in at 
tempting to light it, and let the second go out the instant 
after the flame was kindled. At the third attempt she was 
more successful ; but she only lit one candle, and that one 
she carried away from the table which Mrs. Frankland could 
see, to the dressing-table, which was hidden from her by the 
curtains at the foot of the bed. 



118 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Why do you move the candle ?" asked Rosamond. 

" I thought it was best for your eyes, ma am, not to have 
the light too near them," replied Mrs. Jazeph ; and then 
added hastily, as if she was unwilling to give Mrs. Frank- 
land time to make any objections "And so you were going 
to Cornwall, ma am, when you stopped at this place ? To 
travel about there a little, I suppose ?" After saying these 
words, she took up the second candle, and passed out of sight 
as she carried it to the dressing-table. 

Rosamond thought that the nurse, in spite of her gentle 
looks and manners, was a remarkably obstinate woman. But 
she was too good-natured to care about asserting her right 
to have the candles placed where she pleased; and when she 
answered Mrs. Jazeph s question, she still spoke to her as 
cheerfully and familiarly as ever. 

" Oh, dear no! Not to travel about," she said, " but to go 
straight to the old country-house where I was born. It be 
longs to my husband now, Mrs. Jazeph. I have not been 
near it since I was a little girl of five years of age. Such a 
ruinous, rambling old place ! You, who talk of the dreari 
ness and wildness of Cornwall, would be quite horrified at the 
very idea of living in Porthgenna Tower." 

The faintly rustling sound of Mrs. Jazeph s silk dress, as 
she moved about the dressing-table, had been audible all the 
while Rosamond was speaking. It ceased instantaneously 
when she said the words "Porthgenna Tower;" and for one 
moment there was a dead silence in the room. 

"You, who have been living all your life, I suppose, in 
nicely repaired houses, can not imagine what a place it is 
that we are going to, when I am well enough to travel 
again," pursued Rosamond. " What do you think, Mrs. Ja 
zeph, of a house with one whole side of it that has never 
been inhabited for sixty or seventy years past ? You may 
get some notion of the size of Porthgenna Tower from that. 
There is a west side that we are to live in when we get there, 
and a north side, where the empty old rooms are, which I 
hope we shall be able to repair. Only think of the hosts of 
odd, old-fashioned things that we may find in those uninhab 
ited rooms ! I mean to put on the cook s apron and the 
gardener s gloves, and rummage all over them from top to 
bottom. How I shall astonish the housekeeper, when I get 



THE DEAD SECRET. 119 

to Porthgenna, and ask her for the keys of the ghostly north 
rooms !" 

A low cry, and a sound as if something had struck against 
the dressing-table, followed Mrs. Frankland s last words. She 
started in the bed, and asked eagerly what was the matter. 

" Nothing," answered Mrs. Jazeph, speaking so constrained 
ly that her voice dropped to a whisper. "Nothing, ma am 
nothing, I assure you. I struck my side, by accident, against 
the table pray don t be alarmed! it s not worth noticing." 

" But you speak as if you were in pain," said Rosamond. 

" No, no not in pain. Not hurt not hurt, indeed." 

While Mrs. Jazeph was declaring that she was not hurt, 
the door of the room was opened, and the doctor entered, 
leading in Mr. Frankland. 

" We come early, Mrs. Frankland, but we are going to 
give you plenty of time to compose yourself for the night," 
said Mr. Orridge. lie paused, and noticed that Rosamond s 
color was heightened. " I am afraid you have been talking 
and exciting yourself a little too much," he went on. " If 
you will excuse me for venturing on the suggestion, Mr. 
Frankland, I think the sooner good-night is said the better. 
Where is the nurse ?" 

Mrs. Jazeph sat down with her back to the lighted candle 
when she heard herself asked for. Just before that, she had 
been looking at Mr. Frankland with an eager, undisguised 
curiosity, which, if any one had noticed it, must have appear 
ed surprisingly out of character with her usual modesty and 
refinement of manner. 

" I am afraid the nurse has accidentally hurt her side more 
than she is willing to confess," said Rosamond to the doc 
tor, pointing with one hand to the place in which Mrs. Ja 
zeph was sitting, and raising the other to her husband s 
neck as he stooped over her pillow. 

Mr. Orridge, on inquiring what had happened, could not 
prevail on the new nurse to acknowledge that the accident 
was of the slightest consequence. He suspected, neverthe- 
les/, that she was suffering, or, at least, that something had 
happened to discompose her ; for he found the greatest diffi 
culty in fixing her attention, while he gave her a few need 
ful directions in case her services were required during the 
night. All the time he was speaking, her eyes wandered 



120 THE DEAD SECEET. 

away from him to the part of the room where Mr. and Mrs. 
Frankland were talking together. Mrs. Jazeph looked like 
the last person in the world who would be guilty of an act 
of impertinent curiosity ; and yet she openly betrayed all 
the characteristics of an inquisitive woman while Mr. Frank- 
land was standing by his wife s pillow. The doctor was 
obliged to assume his most peremptory manner before he 
could get her to attend to him at all. 

" And now, Mrs. Frankland," said Mr. Orridge, turning 
away from the nurse, " as I have given Mrs. Jazeph all the 
directions she wants, I shall set the example of leaving you 
in quiet by saying good-night. 

Understanding the hint conveyed in these words, Mr. 
Frankland attempted to say good-night too, but his wife 
kept tight hold of both his hands, and declared that it was 
unreasonable to expect her to let him go for another half- 
hour at least. Mr. Orridge shook his head, and began to ex 
patiate on the evils of over-excitement, and the blessings of 
composure and sleep. His remonstrances, however, would 
have produced very little effect, even if Rosamond had al 
lowed him to continue them, but for the interposition of the 
baby, who happened to wake up at that moment, and who 
proved himself a powerful auxiliary on the doctor s side, by 
absorbing all his mother s attention immediately. Seizing 
his opportunity at the right moment, Mr. Orridge quietly led 
Mr. Frankland out of the room, just as Rosamond was tak 
ing the child up in her arms. He stopped before closing the 
door to whisper one last word to Mrs. Jazeph. 

"If Mrs. Frankland wants to talk, you must not encourage 
her," he said. "As soon as she has quieted the baby, she 
ought to go to sleep. There is a chair-bedstead in that cor 
ner, which you can open for yourself when you want to lie 
down. . Keep the candle where it is now, behind the curtain. 
The less light Mrs. Frankland sees, the sooner she will com 
pose herself to sleep." 

Mrs. Jazeph made no answer ; she only looked at the doc 
tor and courtesied. That strangely scared expression in her 
eyes, which he had noticed on first seeing her, was more 
painfully apparent than ever when he left her alone for the 
night with the mother and child. "She will never do," 
thought Mr. Orridge, as he led Mr. Frankland down the inn 



THE DEAD SECRET. 121 

stairs. " We shall have to send to London for a nurse, aft 
er all." 

Feeling a little irritated by the summary manner in which 
her husband had been taken away from her, Rosamond fret 
fully rejected the offers of assistance which were made to 
her by Mrs. Jazeph as soon as the doctor had left the room. 
The nurse said nothing when her services were declined ; 
and yet, judging by her conduct, she seemed anxious to 
speak. Twice she advanced toward the bedside opened 
her lips stopped and retired confusedly, before she settled 
herself finally in her former place by the dressing - table. 
Here she remained, silent and out of sight, until the child 
had been quieted, and had fallen asleep in his mother s arms, 
with one little pink, half-closed hand resting on her bosom. 
Rosamond could not resist raising the hand to her lips, 
though she risked waking him again by doing so. As she 
kissed it, the sound of the kiss was followed by a faint, sup 
pressed sob, proceeding from the other side of the curtains 
at the lower end of the bed. 

" What is that ?" she exclaimed. 

" Nothing, ma am," said Mrs. Jazeph, in the same con 
strained, whispering tones in which she had answered Mrs. 
Frankland s former question. "I think I was just falling 
asleep in the arm-chair here ; and I ought to have told you 
perhaps that, having had my troubles, and being afflicted 
with a heart complaint, I have a habit of sighing in my sleep. 
It means nothing, ma am, and I hope you will be good 
enough to excuse it." 

Rosamond s generous instincts were aroused in a moment. 

"Excuse it!" she said. "I hope I may do better than 
that, Mrs. Jazeph, and be the means of relieving it. When 
Mr. Orridge comes to-morrow you shall consult him, and I 
will take care that you want for nothing that he may order. 
No ! no ! Don t thank me until I have been the means of 
making you well and keep where you are, if the arm-chair 
is comfortable. The baby is asleep again ; and I should like 
to have half an hour s quiet before I change to the night side 
of the bed. Stop where you are for the present : I will call 
as soon as I want you." 

So far from exercising a soothing effect on Mrs. Jazeph, 
these kindly meant words produced the precisely opposite 



122 THE DEAD SECKET. 

result of making her restless. She began to walk about the 
room, and confusedly attempted to account for the change 
in her conduct by saying that she wished to satisfy herself 
that all her arrangements were properly made for the night. 
In a few minutes more she began, in defiance of the doctor s 
prohibition, to tempt Mrs. Frankland into talking again, by 
asking questions about Porthgenna Tower, and by referring 
to the chances for and against its being chosen as a perma 
nent residence by the young married couple. 

"Perhaps, ma am," she said, speaking on a sudden, with 
an eagerness in her voice which was curiously at variance 
with the apparent indifference of her manner "Perhaps 
when you see Porthgenna Tower you may not like it so well 
as you think you will now. Who can tell that you may 
not get tired and leave the place again after a few days es 
pecially if you go into the empty rooms? I should have 
thought if you will excuse my saying so, ma am I should 
have thought that a lady like you would have liked to get 
as far away as possible from dirt and dust, and disagreeable 
smells." 

" I can face worse inconveniences than those, where my 
curiosity is concerned," said Rosamond. "And I am more 
curious to see the uninhabited rooms at Porthgenna than to 
see the Seven Wonders of the World. Even if we don t 
settle altogether at the old house, I feel certain that we shall 
stay there for some time." 

At that answer, Mrs. Jazeph abruptly turned away, and 
asked no more questions. She retired to a corner of the 
room near the door, where the chair-bedstead stood which 
the doctor had pointed out to her occupied herself for a 
few minutes in making it ready for the night then left it as 
suddenly as she had approached it, and began to walk up 
and down once more. This unaccountable restlessness, which 
had already surprised Rosamond, now made her feel rather 
uneasy especially when she once or twice overheard Mrs. 
Jazeph talking to herself. Judging by words and fragments 
of sentences that were audible now and then, her mind was 
still running, with the most inexplicable persistency, on the 
subject of Porthgenna Tower. As the minutes wore on, and 
she continued to walk up and down, and still went on talk 
ing, Rosamond s uneasiness began to strengthen into some- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 123 

thing like alarm. She resolved to awaken Mrs. Jazeph, in 
the least offensive manner, to a sense of the strangeness of 
her own conduct, by noticing that she was talking, but by 
not appearing to understand that she was talking to herself. 

" What did you say ?" asked Rosamond, putting the ques 
tion at a moment when the nurse s voice was most distinctly 
betraying her in the act of thinking aloud. 

Mrs. Jazeph stopped, and raised her head vacantly, as if 
she had been awakened out of a heavy sleep. 

"I thought you were saying something more about our 
old house," continued Rosamond. "I thought I. heard you 
say that I ought not to go to Porthgenna, or that you would 
not go there in my place, or something of that sort." 

Mrs. Jazeph blushed like a young girl. "I think you 
must have been mistaken, ma am," she said, and stooped over 
the chair-bedstead again. 

Watching her anxiously, Rosamond saw that, while she 
was affecting to arrange the bedstead, she was doing noth 
ing whatever to prepare it for being slept in. What did 
that mean ? What did her whole conduct mean for the last 
half-hour? As Mrs. Frankland asked herself those ques 
tions, the thrill of a terrible suspicion turned her cold to the 
very roots of her hair. It had never occurred to her before, 
but it suddenly struck her now, with the force of positive 
conviction, that the new nurse was not in her right senses. 

All that was unaccountable in her behavior her odd dis 
appearances behind the curtains at the foot of the bed ; her 
lingering, stealthy, over-familiar way of using the hair-brush ; 
her silence at one time, her talkativeness at another ; her 
restlessness, her whispering to herself, her affectation of being 
deeply engaged in doing something which she was not doing 
at all every one of her strange actions (otherwise incompre 
hensible) became intelligible in a moment on that one dread 
ful supposition that she was mad. 

Terrified as she was, Rosamond kept her presence of mind. 
One of her arms stole instinctively round the child; and shehacl 
half raised the other to catch at the bell-rope hanging above 
her pillow, when she saw Mrs. Jazeph turn and look at her. 

A woman possessed only of ordinary nerve would, proba 
bly, at that instant have pulled at the bell-rope in the un 
reasoning desperation of sheer fright. Rosamond had cour- 

F2 



124 THE DEAD SECEET. 

age enough to calculate consequences, and to remember that 
Mrs. Jazeph would have time to lock the door, before assist 
ance could arrive, if she betrayed her suspicions by ringing 
without first assigning some plausible reason for doing so. 
She slowly closed her eyes as the nurse looked at her, partly 
to convey the notion that she was composing herself to sleep 
partly to gain time to think of some safe excuse for sum 
moning her maid. The flurry of her spirits, however, inter 
fered with the exercise of her ingenuity. Minute after min 
ute dragged on heavily, and still she could think of no assign 
able reason for ringing the bell. 

She was just doubting whether it would not be safest to 
send Mrs. Jazeph out of the room, on some message to her 
husband, to lock the door the moment she was alone, and 
then to ring she was just doubting whether she would boldly 
adopt this course of proceeding or not, when she heard the 
rustle of the nurse s silk dress approaching the bedside. 

Her first impulse was to snatch at the bell-rope ; but fear 
had paralyzed her hand; she could not raise it from the 
pillow. 

The rustling of the silk dress ceased. She half unclosed 
her eyes, and saw that the nurse was stopping midway be 
tween the part of the room from which she had advanced 
and the bedside. There was nothing wild or angry in her 
look. The agitation which her face expressed was the agi 
tation of perplexity and alarm. She stood rapidly clasping 
and unclasping her hands, the image of bewilderment and 
distress stood so for nearly a minute then came forward a 
few steps more, and said inquiringly, in a whisper: 

"Not asleep? not quite asleep, yet?" 

Rosamond tried to speak in answer, but the quick beating 
of her heart seemed to rise up to her very lips, and to stifle 
the words on them. 

The nurse came on, still with the same perplexity and dis 
tress in her face, to within a foot of the bedside knelt down 
by the pillow, and looked earnestly at Rosamond shuddered 
a little, and glanced all round her, as if to make sure that the 
room was empty bent forward hesitated bent nearer, and 
whispered into her ear these words : 

"When you go to Porthgenna, keep out of the Myrtle 
JRoom " 



THE DEAD SECRET. 125 

The hot breath of the woman, as she spoke, beat on Rosa 
mond s cheek, and seemed to fly in one fever-throb through 
every vein of her body. The nervous shock of that unutter 
able sensation burst the bonds of the terror that had hitherto 
held her motionless and speechless. She started up in bed 
with a scream, caught hold of the bell-rope, and pulled it 
violently. 

" Oh, hush ! hush !" cried Mrs. Jazeph, sinking back on her 
knees, and beating her hands together despairingly with the 
helpless gesticulation of a child. 

Rosamond rang again and again. Hurrying footsteps and 
eager voices were heard outside on the stairs. It was not 
ten o clock yet nobody had retired for the night and the 
violent ringing had already alarmed the house. 

The nurse rose to her feet, staggered back from the bed 
side, and supported herself against the wall of the room, as 
the footsteps and the voices reached the door. She said not 
another word. The hands that she had been beating together 
so violently but an instant before hung down nerveless at 
her side. The blank of a great agony spread over all her 
face, and stilled it awfully. 

The first person who entered the room was Mrs. Frank- 
land s maid, and the landlady followed her. 

" Fetch Mr. Frankland," said Rosamond, faintly, addressing 
the landlady. " I want to speak to him directly. You," she 
continued, beckoning to the maid, " sit by me here till your 
master comes. I have been dreadfully frightened. Don t ask 
me questions ; but stop here." 

The maid stared at her mistress in amazement ; then looked 
round with a disparaging frown at the nurse. When the 
landlady left the room to fetch Mr. Frankland, she had moved 
a little away from the wall, so as to command a full view of 
the bed. Her eyes were fixed with a look of breathless sus 
pense, of devouring anxiety, on Rosamond s face. From all 
her other features the expression seemed to be gone. She 
said nothing, she noticed nothing. She did not start, she did 
not move aside an inch, when the landlady returned, and led 
Mr. Frankland to his wife. 

" Lenny ! don t let the new nurse stop here to-night pray, 
pray don t !" whispered Rosamond, eagerly catching her hus 
band by the arm. 



126 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Warned by the trembling of her hand, Mr. Frankland laid 
his fingers lightly on her temples and on her heart. 

" Good Heavens, Rosamond ! what has happened ? I left 
you quiet and comfortable, and now " 

" I ve been frightened, dear dreadfully frightened, by the 
new nurse. Don t be hard on her, poor creature ; she is not 
in her right senses I am certain she is not. Only get her 
away quietly only send her back at once to where she came 
from. I shall die of the fright, if she stops here. She has 
been behaving so strangely she has spoken such words to 
me Lenny! Lenny! don t let go of my hand. She came 
stealing up to me so horribly, just where you are now; she 
knelt down at my ear, and whispered oh, such words !" 

" Hush, hush, love !" said Mr. Frankland, getting seriously 
alarmed by the violence of Rosamond s agitation. " Never 
mind repeating the words now ; wait till you are calmer I 
beg and entreat of you, wait till you are calmer. I will do 
every tiding you wish, if you will only lie down and be quiet, 
and try to compose yourself before you say another word. 
It is quite enough for me to know that this woman has 
frightened you, and that you wish her to be sent away with 
as little harshness as possible. We will put off all further 
explanations till to-morrow morning. I deeply regret now 
that I did not persist in carrying out my own idea of send 
ing for a proper nurse from London. Where is the land 
lady?" 

The landlady placed herself by Mr. Frankland s side. 

" Is it late ?" asked Leonard. 

" Oh no, Sir ; not ten o clock yet." 

" Order a fly to be brought to the door, then, as soon as 
possible, if you please. Where is the nurse ?" 

" Standing behind you, Sir, near the wall," said the maid. 

As Mr. Frankland turned in that direction, Rosamond whis 
pered to him : "Don t be hard on her, Lenny." 

The maid, looking with contemptuous curiosity at Mrs. Ja- 
zeph, saw the whole expression of her countenance alter, as 
those words were spoken. The tears rose thick in her eyes, 
and flowed down her cheeks. The deathly spell of stillness 
that had lain on her face was broken in an instant. She drew 
back again, close to the wall, and leaned against it as before. 
" Don t be hard on her !" the maid heard her repeat to herself, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 127 

in a low sobbing voice. " Don t be hard on her ! Oh, my 
God ! she said that kindly she said that kindly, at least !" 

" I have no desire to speak to you, or to use you unkindly," 
said Mr. Frankland, imperfectly hearing what she said. " I 
know nothing of what has happened, and I make no accusa 
tions. I find Mrs. Frankland violently agitated and frighten 
ed ; I hear her connect that agitation with you not angrily, 
but compassionately and, instead of speaking harshly, I pre 
fer leaving it to your own sense of what is right, to decide 
whether your attendance here ought not to cease at once. I 
have provided the proper means for your conveyance from 
this place ; and I would suggest that you should make our 
apologies to your mistress, and say nothing more than that 
circumstances have happened which oblige us to dispense 
with your services." 

" You have been considerate toward me, Sir," said Mrs. Ja- 
zeph, speaking quietly, and with a certain gentle dignity in 
her manner, " and I will not prove myself unworthy of your 
forbearance by saying what I might say in my own defense." 
She advanced into the middle of the room, and stopped where 
she could see Rosamond plainly. Twice she attempted to 
speak, and twice her voice failed her. At the third effort 
she succeeded in controlling herself. 

" Before I go, ma am," she said, " I hope you will believe 
that I have no bitter feeling against you for sending me 
away. I am not angry pray remember always that I was 
not angry, and that I never complained." 

There was such a forlornness in her face, such a sweet, sor 
rowful resignation in every tone of her voice during the 
utterance of these few words, that Rosamond s heart smote 
her. 

" Why did you frighten me ?" she asked, half relenting. 

" Frighten you ? How could I frighten you ? Oh me ! of 
all the people in the world, how could I frighten you ?" 

Mournfully saying those words, the nurse went to the 
chair on which she had placed her bonnet and shawl, and put 
them on. The landlady and the maid, watching her with 
curious eyes, detected that she was again weeping bitterly, 
and noticed with astonishment, at the same time, how neatly 
she put on her bonnet and shawl. The wasted hands were 
moving mechanically, and were trembling while they moved, 



128 THE DEAD SECRET. 

and yet, slight thing though it was, the inexorable instinct 
of propriety guided their most trifling actions still. 

On her way to the door, she stopped again at passing the 
bedside, looked through her tears at Rosamond and the child, 
struggled a little with herself, and then spoke her farewell 
words 

" God bless you, and keep you and your child happy and 
prosperous," she said. " I am not angry at being sent away. 
If you ever think of me again, after to-mght, please to re 
member that I was not angry, and that I never complained." 

She stood for a moment longer, still weeping, and still 
looking through her tears at the mother and child then 
turned away and walked to the door. Something in the last 
tones of her voice caused a silence in the room. Of the four 
persons in it not one could utter a word, as the nurse closed 
the door gently, and went out from them alone. 



CHAPTER V. 

A COUNCIL OF THREE. 

Ox the morning after the departure of Mrs. Jazeph, the 
news that she had been sent away from the Tiger s Head by 
Mr. Frankland s directions, reached the doctor s residence 
from the inn just as he was sitting down to breakfast. Find 
ing that the report of the nurse s dismissal was not accom 
panied by any satisfactory explanation of the cause of it, Mr. 
Orridge refused to believe that her attendance on Mrs. Frank- 
land had really ceased. However, although he declined to 
credit the news, he was so far disturbed by it that he finished 
his breakfast in a hurry, and went to pay his morning visit 
at the Tiger s Head nearly two hours before the time at 
which he usually attended on his patient. 

On his way to the inn, he was met and stopped by the one 
waiter attached to the establishment. "I was just bringing 
you a message from Mr. Frankland, Sir," said the man. " He 
wants to see you as soon as possible." 

" Is it true that Mrs. Frankland s nurse was sent away last 
night by Mr. Frankland s order ?" asked Mr. Orridge. 

" Quite true, Sir," answered the waiter. 

The doctor colored, and looked seriously discomposed. One 



\ 

% 

THE DEAD SECRET. 129 

of the most precious things we have about us especially if 
we happen to belong to the medical profession is our dig 
nity. It struck Mr. Orridge that he ought to have been con 
sulted before a nurse of his recommending was dismissed 
from her situation at a moment s notice. Was Mr. Frank- 
land presuming upon his position as a gentleman of fortune ? 
The power of wealth may do much with impunity, but it is 
not privileged to offer any practical contradictions to a man s 
good opinion of himself. Never had the doctor thought 
more disrespectfully of rank and riches ; never had he been 
conscious of reflecting on republican principles with such ab 
solute impartiality, as when he now followed the waiter in 
sullen silence to Mr. Frankland s room. 

" Who is that ?" asked Leonard, when he heard the door 
open. 

" Mr. Orridge, Sir," said the waiter. 

" Good-morning," said Mr. Orridge, with self-asserting ab 
ruptness and familiarity. 

Mr. Frankland was sitting in an arm-chair, with his legs 
crossed. Mr. Orridge carefully selected another arm-chair, 
and crossed his legs on the model of Mr. Frankland s the mo 
ment he sat down. Mr. Frankland s hands were in the pock 
ets of his dressing-gown. Mr. Orridge had no pockets, ex 
cept in his coat-tails, which he could not conveniently get 
at ; but he put his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waist 
coat, and asserted himself against the easy insolence of 
wealth in that way. It made no difference to him so cu 
riously narrow is the range of a man s perceptions when he 
is insisting on his own importance that Mr. Frankland was 
blind, and consequently incapable of being impressed by 
the independence of his bearing. Mr. Orridge s own dignity 
was vindicated in Mr. Orridge s own presence, and that was 
enough. 

"I am glad you have come so early, doctor," said Mr. 
Frankland. " A very unpleasant thing happened here last 
night. I was obliged to send the new nurse away at a mo 
ment s notice." 

" Were you, indeed !" said Mr. Orridge, defensively match 
ing Mr. Frankland s composure by an assumption of the com- 
pletest indifference. " Aha ! were you indeed ?" 

" If there had been time to send and consult you, of course 



130 THE DEAD SECEET. 

I should have been only too glad to have done so," continued 
Leonard ; " but it was impossible to hesitate. We were all 
alarmed by a loud ringing of my wife s bell ; I was taken up 
to her room, and found her in a condition of the most violent 
agitation and alarm. She told me she had been dreadfully 
frightened by the new nurse ; declared her conviction that 
the woman was not in her right senses ; and entreated that I 
would get her out of the house with as little delay and as 
little harshness as possible. Under these circumstances, what 
could I do ? I may seem to have been wanting in consider 
ation toward you, in proceeding on my own sole responsi 
bility ; but Mrs. Frankland was in such a state of excitement 
that I could not tell what might be the consequence of op 
posing her, or of venturing on any delays; and after the dif 
ficulty had been got over, she would not hear of your being 
disturbed by a summons to the inn. I am sure you will un 
derstand this explanation, doctor, in the spirit in which I of 
fer it." 

Mr. Orridge began to look a little confused. His solid sub 
structure of independence was softening and sinking from 
under him. He suddenly found himself thinking of the cul 
tivated manners of the wealthy classes ; his thumbs slipped 
mechanically out of the arm-holes of his waistcoat ; and, be 
fore he well knew what he was about, he was stammering 
his way through all the choicest intricacies of a compliment 
ary and respectful reply. 

"You will naturally be anxious to know what the new 
nurse said or did to frighten my wife so," pursued Mr. Frank- 
land. " I can tell you nothing in detail ; for Mrs. Frankland 
was in such a state of nervous dread last night that I was 
really afraid of asking for any explanations; and I have pur 
posely waited to make inquiries this morning until you could 
come here and accompany me up stairs. You kindly took 
so much trouble to secure this unlucky woman s attendance, 
that you have a right to hear all that can be alleged against 
her, now she has been sent away. Considering all things, 
Mrs. Frankland is not so ill this morning as I was afraid she 
would be. She expects to see you with me ; and, if you will 
kindly give me your arm, we will go up to her immedi 
ately." 

On entering Mrs. Frankland s room, the doctor saw at a 



THE DEAD SECKET. 131 

glance that she had been altered for the worse by the events 
of the past evening. He remarked that the smile with which 
she srreeted her husband was the faintest and saddest he had 

O 

seen on her face. Her eyes looked dim and weary, her skin 
was dry, her pulse was irregular. It was plain that she had 
passed a wakeful night, and that her mind was not at ease. 
She dismissed the inquiries of her medical attendant as briefly 
as possible, and led the conversation immediately, of her own 
accord, to the subject of Mrs. Jazeph. 

" I suppose you have heard what has happened," she said, 
addressing Mr. Orridge. " I can t tell you how grieved I am 
about it. My conduct must look in your eyes, as well as in 
the eyes of the poor unfortunate nurse, the conduct of a ca 
pricious, unfeeling woman. I am ready to cry with sorrow 
and vexation when I remember how thoughtless I was, and 
how little courage I showed. Oh, Lenny, it is dreadful to 
hurt the feelings of any body, but to have pained that un 
happy, helpless woman as we pained her, to have made her 
cry so bitterly, to have caused her such humiliation and 
wretchedness " 

" My dear Rosamond," interposed Mr. Frankland, " you 
are lamenting effects, and forgetting causes altogether. Re 
member what a state of terror I found you in there must 
have been some reason for that. Remember, too, how strong 

O 

your conviction was that the nurse was out of her senses. 
Surely you have not altered your opinion on that point al 
ready?" 

" It is that very opinion, love, that has been perplexing 
and worrying me all night. I can t alter it ; I feel more cer 
tain than ever that there must be something wrong with the 
poor creature s intellect and yet, when I remember how 
good-naturedly she came here to help me, and how anxious 
she seemed to make herself useful, I can t help feeling 
ashamed of my suspicions ; I can t help reproaching myself 
for having been the cause of her dismissal last night. Mr. 
Orridge, did you notice any thing in Mrs. Jazeph s face or 
manner which might lead you to doubt whether her intellects 
were quite as sound as they ought to be ?" 

" Certainly not, Mrs. Frankland, or I should never have 
brought her here. I should not have been astonished to 
hear that she was suddenly taken ill, or that she had been 



132 THE DEAD SECRET. 

seized with a fit, or that some slight accident, which would 
have frightened nobody else, had seriously frightened her; 
but to be told that there is any thing approaching to de 
rangement in her faculties, does, I own, fairly surprise me." 

" Can I have been mistaken !" exclaimed Rosamond, look 
ing confusedly and self-distrustfully from Mr. Orridge to her 
husband. " Lenny ! Lenny ! if I have been mistaken, I shall 
never forgive myself." 

" Suppose you tell us, my dear, what led you to suspect 
that she was mad ?" suggested Mr. Frankland. 

Rosamond hesitated. " Things that are great in one s own 
mind," she said, "seem to get so little when they are put into 
words. I almost despair of making you understand what 
good reason I had to be frightened and then, I am afraid, 
in trying to do justice to myself, that I may not do justice 
to the nurse." 

" Tell your own story, my love, in your own way, and you 
will be sure to tell it properly," said Mr. Frankland. 

"And pray remember," added Mr. Orridge, "that I attach 
no real importance to my opinion of Mrs. Jazeph. I have 
not had time enough to form it. Your opportunities of ob 
serving her have been far more numerous than mine." 

Thus encouraged, Rosamond plainly and simply related all 
that had happened in her room on the previous evening, up 
to the time when she had closed her eyes and had heard the 
nurse approaching her bedside. Before repeating the ex 
traordinary words that Mrs. Jazeph had whispered in her 
ear, she made a pause, and looked earnestly in her husband s 
face. 

" Why do you stop ?" asked Mr. Frankland. 

" I feel nervous and flurried still, Lenny, when I think of 
the words the nurse said to me, just before I rang the bell." 

" What did she say ? Was it something you would rather 
not repeat ?" 

" No ! no ! I am most anxious to repeat it, and to hear 
what you think it means. As I have just told you, Lenny, 
we had been talking of Porthgenna, and of my project of ex 
ploring the north rooms as soon as I got there ; and she had 
been asking many questions about the old house; appearing, 
I must say, to be unaccountably interested in it, considering 
she was a stranger." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 133 

"Yes?" 

" Well, when she came to the bedside, she knelt down close 
at my ear, and whispered all on a sudden When you go 
to Porthgenna, keep out of the Myrtle Room ! " 

Mr. Frankland started. " Is there such a room at Porth 
genna?" he asked, eagerly. 

" I never heard of it," said Rosamond. 

" Are you sure of that ?" inquired Mr. Orridge. Up to this 
moment the doctor had privately suspected that Mrs. Frank- 
land must have fallen asleep soon after he left her the evening 
before ; and that the narrative which she was now relating, 
with the sincerest conviction of its reality, was actually de 
rived from nothing but a series of vivid impressions produced 
by a dream. 

" I am certain I never heard of such a room," said Rosa 
mond. " I left Porthgenna at five years old ; and I had never 
heard of it then. My father often talked of the house in after- 
years ; but I am certain that he never spoke of any of the 
rooms by any particular names ; and I can say the same of 
your fatlier, Lenny, whenever I was in his company after he 
had bought the place. Besides, don t you remember, when 
the builder we sent down to survey the house wrote you that 
letter, he complained that there were no names of the rooms 
on the different keys to guide him in opening the doors, and 
that he could get no information from any body at Porth 
genna on the subject? How could I ever have heard of the 
Myrtle Room ? Who was there to tell me ?" 

Mr. Orridge began to look perplexed ; it seemed by no 
means so certain that Mrs. Frankland had been dreaming, 
after all. 

" I have thought of nothing else," said Rosamond to her 
husband, in low, whispering tones. " I can t get those mys 
terious words off my mind. Feel my heart, Lenny it is 
beating quicker than usual only with saying them over to 
you. They are such very strange, startling words. What 
do you think they mean ?" 

" Who is the woman who spoke them ? that is the most 
important question," said Mr. Frankland. 

"But why did she say the words to me? That is what I 
want to know that is what I must know, if I am ever to 
feel easy in my mind again !" 



134 THE DEAD SECKET. 

" Gently, Mrs. Frankland, gently !" said Mr. Orridge. " For 
your child s sake, as well as for your own, pray try to be 
calm, and to look at this very mysterious event as composed 
ly as you can. If any exertions of mine can throw light upon 
this strange woman and her still stranger conduct, I will not 
spare them. I am going to-day to her mistress s house to see 
one of the children ; and, depend upon it, I will manage in 
some way to make Mrs. Jazeph explain herself. Her mistress 
shall hear every word that you have told me ; and I can as 
sure you she is just the sort of downright, resolute woman 
who will insist on having the whole mystery instantly 
cleared up." 

Rosamond s weary eyes brightened at the doctor s propo 
sal. " Oh, go at once, Mr. Orridge !" she exclaimed " go at 
once !" 

" I have a great deal of medical work to do in the town 
first," said the doctor, smiling at Mrs. Fraukland s impatience. 

" Begin it, then, without losing another instant," said Ros 
amond. " The baby is quite well, and I am quite well we 
need not detain you a moment. And, Mr. Orridge, pray be 
as gentle and considerate as possible with the poor woman ; 
and tell her that I never should have thought of sending her 
away if I had not been too frightened to know what I was 
about. And say how sorry I am this morning, and say " 

" My dear, if Mrs. Jazeph is really not in her right senses, 
what would be the use of overwhelming her with all these 
excuses ?" interposed Mr. Frankland. " It will be more to 
the purpose if Mr. Orridge will kindly explain and apologize 
for us to her mistress." 

" Go ! Don t stop to talk pray go at once !" cried Ros 
amond, as the doctor attempted to reply to Mr. Frankland. 

"Don t be afraid ; no time shall be lost," said Mr. Orridge, 
opening the door. " But remember, Mrs. Frankland, I shall 
expect you to reward your embassador, when he returns from 
his mission, by showing him that you are a little more quiet 
and composed than I find you this morning." With that 
parting hint, the doctor took his leave. 

" When you go to Porthgenna, keep out of the Myrtle 
Room, " repeated Mr. Frankland, thoughtfully. "Those are 
very strange words, Rosamond. Who can this woman really 
be ? She is a perfect stranger to both of us ; we are brought 



THE DEAD SECRET. 135 

into contact with her by the merest accident ; and we find 
that she knows something about our own house of which we 
were both perfectly ignorant until she chose to speak !" 

" But the warning, Lenny the warning, so pointedly and 
mysteriously addressed to me ? Oh, if I could only go to sleep 
at once, and not wake again till the doctor comes back !" 

" My love, try not to count too certainly on our being en 
lightened, even then. The woman may refuse to explain her 
self to any body." 

" Don t even hint at such a disappointment as that, Lenny 
or I shall be wanting to get up, and go and question her 
myself!" 

" Even if you could get up and question her, Rosamond, 
you might find it impossible to make her answer. She may 
be afraid of certain consequences which we can not foresee ; 
and, in that case, I can only repeat that it is more than prob 
able she will explain nothing or, perhaps, still more likely 
that she will coolly deny her own words altogether." 

" Then, Lenny, we will put them to the proof for ourselves." 

"And how can we do that?" 

" By continuing our journey to Porthgenna the moment I 
am allowed to travel, and by leaving no stone unturned when 
we get there until we have discovered whether there is or 
is not any room in the old house that ever was known, at any 
time of its existence, by the name of the Myrtle Room." 

"And suppose it should turn out that there is such a 
room?" asked Mr. Frankland, beginning to feel the influence 
of his wife s enthusiasm. 

"If it does turn out so," said Rosamond, her voice rising, 
and her face lighting up with its accustomed vivacity, " how 
can you doubt what will happen next ? Am I not a woman ? 
And have I not been forbidden to enter the Myrtle Roonr? 
Lenny ! Lenny ! Do you know so little of my half of hu 
manity as to doubt what I should do the moment the room 
was discovered ? My darling, as a matter of course, I should 
walk into it immediately." 



130 THE DEAD SECKET. 



CHAPTER VI. 

ANOTHER SURPRISE. 

WITH all the haste he could make, it was one o clock in the 
afternoon before Mr. Orridge s professional avocations allowed 
him to set forth in his gig for Mrs. Norbury s house. He 
drove there with such good-will that he accomplished the 
half-hour s journey in twenty minutes. The footman having 
heard the rapid approach of the gig, opened the hall door the 
instant the horse was pulled up before it, and confronted the 
doctor with a smile of malicious satisfaction. 

" Well," said Mr. Orridge, bustling into the hall, " you 
were all rather surprised last night when the housekeeper 
came back, I suppose ?" 

" Yes, Sir, we certainly were surprised when she came back 
last night," answered the footman ; " but we were still more 
surprised when she went away again this morning." 

" Went away ! You don t mean to say she is gone ?" 

" Yes, I do, Sir she has lost her place, and gone for good." 
The footman smiled again, as he made that reply ; and the 
housemaid, who happened to be on her way down stairs 
while he was speaking, and to hear what he said, smiled too. 
Mrs. Jazeph had evidently been no favorite in the servants 
hall. 

Amazement prevented Mr. Orridge from uttering another 
word. Hearing no more questions asked, the footman threw 
open the door of the breakfast-parlor, and the doctor fol 
lowed him into the room. Mrs. Norbury was sitting near the 
window in a rigidly upright attitude, inflexibly watching the 
proceedings of her invalid child over a basin of beef-tea. 

" I know what you are going to talk about before you open 
your lips," said the outspoken lady. " But just look to the 
child first, and say what you have to say on that subject, if 
you please, before you enter on any other." 

The child was examined, was pronounced to be improving 
rapidly, and was carried away by the nurse to lie down and 
rest a little. As soon as the door of the room had closed, Mrs. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 137 

Norbury abruptly addressed the doctor, interrupting him, for 
the second time, just as he was about to speak. 

" Now, Mr. Orridge," she said, " I want to tell you some 
thing at the outset. I am a remarkably just woman, and I 
have no quarrel with you. You are the cause of my having 
been treated with the most audacious insolence by three peo 
ple but you are the innocent cause, and, therefore, I don t 
blame you." 

" I am really at a loss," Mr. Orridge began " quite at a 
loss, I assure you " 

" To know what I mean ?" said Mrs. Norbury. " I will 
soon tell you. Were you not the original cause of my send 
ing my housekeeper to nurse Mrs. Frankland ?" 

"Yes." Mr. Orridge could not hesitate to acknowledge 
that. 

" Well," pursued Mrs. Norbury, " and the consequence of 
my sending her is, as I said before, that I am treated with 
unparalleled insolence by no less than three people. Mrs. 
Frankland takes an insolent whim into her head, and affects 
to be frightened by my housekeeper. Mr. Frankland shows 
an insolent readiness to humor that whim, and hands me back 
my housekeeper as if she was a bad shilling ; and last, and 
worst of all, ruy housekeeper herself insults me to my face as 
soon as she comes back insults me, Mr. Orridge, to that- de 
gree that I give her twelve hours notice to leave the place. 
Don t begin to defend yourself! I know all about it ; I know 
you had nothing to do with sending her back; I never said 
you had. All the mischief you have done is innocent mis 
chief. I don t blame you, remember that whatever you do, 
Mr. Orridge, remember that !" 

" I had no idea of defending myself," said the doctor, " for 
I have no reason to do so. But you surprise me beyond all 
power of expression when you tell me that Mrs. Jazeph treat 
ed you with incivility." 

" Incivility !" exclaimed Mrs. Norbury. " Don t talk about 
incivility it s not the word. Impudence is the word bra 
zen impudence. The only charitable thing to say of Mrs. 
Jazeph is that she is not right in her head. I never noticed 
any thing odd about her myself; but the servants used to 
laugh at her for being as timid in the dark as a child, and for 
often running away to her candle in her own room when 



138 THE DEAD SECRET. 

they declined to light the lamps before the night had fairly 
set in. I never troubled my head about this before ; but I 
thought of it last night, I can tell you, when I found her look 
ing me fiercely in the face, and contradicting me flatly the 
moment I spoke to her." 

" I should have thought she was the very last woman in 
the world to misbehave herself in that way," answered the 
doctor. 

" Very well. Now hear what happened when she came 
back last night," said Mrs. Norbury. "She got here just as 
we were going up stairs to bed. Of course, I was astonished ; 
and, of course, I called her into the drawing-room for an ex 
planation. There was nothing very unnatural in that course 
of proceeding, I suppose ? Well, I noticed that her eyes were 
swollen and red, and that her looks were remarkably wild 
and queer; but I said nothing, and waited for the explana 
tion. All that she had to tell me was that something she 
had unintentionally said or done had frightened Mrs. Frank- 
land, and that Mrs. Frankland s husband had sent her away 
on the spot. I disbelieved this at first and very naturally, 
I think but she persisted in the story, and answered all my 
questions by declaring that she could tell me nothing more. 
1 So then, I said, I am to believe that, after I have inconven 
ienced myself by sparing you, and after you have inconven 
ienced yourself by undertaking the business of nurse, I am to 
be insulted, and you are to be insulted, by your being sent 
away from Mrs. Frankland on the very day when you get to 
her, because she chooses to take a whim into her head ? I 
never accused Mrs. Frankland of taking a whim into her 
head, said Mrs. Jazeph, and stares me straight in the face, 
with such a look as I never saw in her eyes before, after all 
my five years experience of her. What do you mean ? I 
asked, giving her back her look, I can promise you. Are 
you base enough to take the treatment you have received in 
the light of a favor ? I am just enough, said Mrs. Jazeph, 
as sharp as lightning, and still with that same stare straight at 
me * I am just enough not to blame Mrs. Frankland. Oh, 
you are, are you ? I said. * Then all I can tell you is, that I 
feel this insult, if you don t ; and that I consider Mrs. Frank- 
land s conduct to be the conduct of an ill-bred, impudent, ca 
pricious, unfeeling woman. Mrs. Jazeph takes a step up to 



THE DEAD SECKET. 139 

me takes a step, I give you my word of honor and says dis 
tinctly, in so many words, * Mrs. Frankland is neither ill-bred, 
impudent, capricious, nor unfeeling. Do you mean to con 
tradict me, Mrs. Jazeph? I asked. I mean to defend Mrs. 
Frankland from unjust imputations, says she. Those were 
her words, Mr. Orridge on my honor, as a gentlewoman, 
those were exactly her words." 

The doctor s face expressed the blankest astonishment. 
Mrs. Norbury went on 

"I was in a towering passion I don t mind confessing 
that, Mr. Orridge but I kept it down. Mrs. Jazeph, I said, 
4 this is language that I am not accustomed to, and that I cer 
tainly never expected to hear from your lips. Why you 
should take it on yourself to defend Mrs. Frankland for treat 
ing us both with contempt, and to contradict me for resent 
ing it, I neither know nor care to know. But I must tell 
you, in plain words, that I will be spoken to by every person 
in my employment, from my housekeeper to my scullery- 
maid, with respect. I would have given warning on the spot 
to any other servant in this house who had behaved to me 
as you have behaved. She tried to interrupt me there, but 
I would not allow her. No, I said, you are not to speak 
to me just yet ; you are to hear me out. Any other servant, 
I tell you again, should have left this place to-morrow morn 
ing ; but I will be more than just to you. I will give you 
the benefit of your five years good conduct in my service. 
I will leave you the rest of the night to get cool, and to re 
flect on what has passed between us ; and I will not expect 
you to make the proper apologies to me until the morning. 
You see, Mr. Orridge, I was determined to act justly and 
kindly ; I was ready to make allowances and what do you 
think she said in return? I am willing to make any apolo 
gies, ma am, for offending you, she said, without the delay 
of a single minute ; but, whether it is to-night, or whether it 
is to-morrow morning, I can not stand by silent when I hear 
Mrs. Frankland charged with acting unkindly, uncivilly, or 
improperly toward me or toward any one. * Do you tell me 
that deliberately, Mrs. Jazeph ? I asked. I tell it you sin 
cerely, ma am, she answered ; and I am very sorry to be 
obliged to do so. Pray don t trouble yourself to be sorry, 
I said, for you may consider yourself no longer in my serv- 

G 



140 THE DEAD SECRET. 

ice. I will order the steward to pay you the usual month s 
wages instead of the month s warning the first thing to-mor 
row; and I beg that you will leave the house as soon as 
you conveniently can afterward. I will leave to-morrow, 
ma am, says she, but without troubling the steward. I beg 
respectfully, and with many thanks for your past kindness, 
to decline taking a month s money which I have not earned by 
a month s service. And thereupon she courtesies and goes 
out. That is, word for word, what passed between us, Mr. 
Orridge. Explain the woman s conduct in your own way, 
if you can. I say that it is utterly incomprehensible, unless 
you agree with me that she was not in her right senses when 
she came back to this house last night." 

The doctor began to think, after what he had just heard, 
that Mrs. Frankland s suspicions in relation to the new nurse 
were not quite so unfounded as he had been at first disposed 
to consider them. He wisely refrained, however, from com 
plicating matters by giving utterance to what he thought; 
and, after answering Mrs. Norbury in a few vaguely polite 
words, endeavored to soothe her irritation against Mr. and 
Mrs. Frankland by assuring her that he came as the bearer 
of apologies from both husband and wife, for the apparent 
want of courtesy and consideration in their conduct which 
circumstances had made inevitable. The offended lady, how 
ever, absolutely refused to be propitiated. She rose up, and 
waved her hand with an air of great dignity. 

" I can not hear a word more from you, Mr. Orridge," she 
said; "I can not receive any apologies which are made indi 
rectly. If Mr. Frankland chooses to call, and if Mrs. Frank- 
land condescends to write to me, I am willing to think no 
more of the matter. Under any other circumstances, I must 
be allowed to keep my present opinions both of the lady and 
the gentleman. Don t say another word, and be so kind as 
to excuse me if I leave you, and go up to the nursery to see 
how the child is getting on. I am delighted to hear that you 
think her so much better. Pray call again to-morrow or 
next day, if you conveniently can. Good-morning !" 

Half amused at Mrs. Norbury, half displeased at the curt 
tone she adopted toward him, Mr. Orridge remained for a 
minute or two alone in the breakfast-parlor, feeling rather 
undecided about what he should do next. He was, by this 



THE DEAD SECRET. 141 

time, almost as much interested in solving the mystery of 
Mrs. Jazeph s extraordinary conduct as Mrs. Frankland her 
self; and he felt unwilling, on all accounts, to go back to the 
Tiger s Head, and merely repeat what Mrs. Norbury had told 
him, without being able to complete the narrative by inform 
ing Mr. and Mrs. Frankland of the direction that the house 
keeper had taken on leaving her situation. After some pon 
dering, he determined to question the footman, under the 
pretense of desiring to know if his gig was at the door. The 
man having answered the bell, and having reported the gig 
to be ready, Mr. Orridge, while crossing the hall, asked him 
carelessly if he knew at what time in the morning Mrs. Jazeph 
had left her place. 

" About ten o clock, Sir," answered the footman. " When 
the carrier came by from the village, on his way to the sta 
tion for the eleven o clock train." 

" Oh ! I suppose he took her boxes?" said Mr. Orridge. 

"And he took her, too, Sir," said the man, with a grin. 
" She had to ride, for once in her life, at any rate, in a car 
rier s cart." 

On getting back to West Winston, the doctor stopped at 
the station to collect further particulars, before he returned 
to the Tiger s Head. No trains, either up or down, happen 
ed to be due just at that time. The station-master was read 
ing the newspaper, and the porter was gardening on the 
slope of the embankment. 

"Is the train at eleven in the morning an up-train or a 
down-train ?" asked Mr. Orridge, addressing the porter. 

" A down-train." 

"Did many people go by it?" 

The porter repeated the names of some of the inhabitants 
of West Winston. 

" Were there no passengers but passengers from the town ?" 
inquired the doctor. 

"Yes, Sir. I think there was one stranger a lady." 

" Did the station-master issue the tickets for that train ?" 

" Yes, Sir." 

Mr. Orridge went on to the station-master. 

"Do you remember giving a ticket this morning, by the 
eleven o clock down-train, to a lady traveling alone ?" 

The station-master pondered. " I have issued tickets, up 



142 THE DEAD SECRET. 

and down, to half-a-dozen ladies to-day," he answered, doubt 
fully. 

" Yes, but I am speaking only of the eleven o clock train," 
said Mr. Orridge. " Try if you can t remember ?" 

" Remember ? Stop ! I do remember ; I know who you 
mean. A lady who seemed rather flurried, and who put a 
question to me that I am not often asked at this station. She 
had her veil down, I recollect, and she got here for the eleven 
o clock train. Crouch, the carrier, brought her trunk into the 
office." 

" That is the woman. Where did she take her ticket for ?" 

" For Exeter." 

" You said she asked you a question ?" 

" Yes : a question about what coaches met the rail at Ex 
eter to take travelers into Cornwall. I told her we were 
rather too far off here to have the correct time-table, and rec 
ommended her to apply for information to the Devonshire 
people when she got to the end of her journey. " She seemed 
a timid, helpless kind of woman to travel alone. Any thing 
wrong in connection with her, Sir?" 

" Oh, no ! nothing," said Mr. Orridge, leaving the station- 
master and hastening back to his gig again. 

When he drew up, a few minutes afterward, at the door of 
the Tiger s Head, he jumped out of his vehicle with the con 
fident air of a man who has done all that could be expected 
of him. It was easy to face Mrs. Frankland with the unsatis 
factory news of Mrs. Jazeph s departure, now that he could 
add, on the best authority, the important supplementary in 
formation that she had gone to Cornwall. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 143 



BOOK IV. 

CHAPTER I. 

A PLOT AGAINST THE SECRET. 

TOWARD the close of the evening, on the day after Mr. Or- 
ridge s interview with Mrs. Norbury, the Druid fast coach, 
running through Cornwall as far as Truro, set down three in 
side passengers at the door of the booking-office on arriving 
at its destination. Two of these passengers were an old gen 
tleman and his daughter ; the third was Mrs. Jazeph. 

The father and daughter collected their luggage and en 
tered the hotel ; the outside passengers branched off in differ 
ent directions with as little delay as possible ; Mrs. Jazeph 
alone stood irresolute on the pavement, and seemed uncertain 
what she should do next. When the coachman good-nat 
uredly endeavored to assist her in arriving at a decision of 
some kind, by asking whether he could do any thing to help 
her, she started, and looked at him suspiciously; then, appear 
ing to recollect herself, thanked him for his kindness, and in 
quired, with a confusion of words and a hesitation of manner 
which appeared very extraordinary in the coachman s eyes, 
whether she might be allowed to leave her trunk at the book 
ing-office for a little while, until she could return and call for 
it again. 

Receiving permission to leave her trunk as long as she 
pleased, she crossed over the principal street of the town, as 
cended the pavement on the opposite side, and walked down 
the first turning she came to. On entering the by-street to 
which the turning led, she glanced back, satisfied herself that 
nobody was following or watching her, hastened on a few 
yards, and stopped again at a small shop devoted to the sale 
of book-cases, cabinets, work-boxes, and writing-desks. After 
first looking up at the letters painted over- the door BUSCH- 
MANX, CABINET-MAKER, &c. she peered in at the shop win 
dow. A middle-aged man, with a cheerful face, sat behind 
the counter, polishing a rosewood bracket, and nodding brisk- 



144 THE DEAD SECEET. 

ly at regular intervals, as if he were humming a tune and 
keeping time to it with his head. Seeing no customers in the 
shop, Mrs. Jazeph opened the door and walked in. 

As soon as she was inside, she became aware that the cheer 
ful man behind the counter was keeping time, not to a tune 
of his own humming, but to a tune played by a musical box. 
The clear ringing notes came from a parlor behind the shop, 
and the air the box was playing was the lovely "Batti, 
Batti," of Mozart. 

" Is Mr. Buschmann at home ?" asked Mrs. Jazeph. 

" Yes, ma am," said the cheerful man, pointing with a smile 
toward the door that led into the parlor. "The music an 
swers for him. Whenever Mr. Buschmann s box is playing, 
Mr. Buschmann himself is not far off from it. Did you wish 
to see him, ma am ?" 

" If there is nobody with him." 

" Oh, no, he is quite alone. Shall I give any name ?" 

Mrs. Jazeph opened her lips to answer, hesitated, and said 
nothing. The shopman, with a quicker delicacy of perception 
than might have been expected from him, judging by out 
ward appearances, did not repeat the question, but opened 
the door at once, and admitted the visitor to the presence of 
Mr. Buschmann. 

The shop parlor was a very small room, with an old three- 
cornered look about it, with a bright green paper on the 
walls, with a large dried fish in a glass case over the fire 
place, with two meerschaum pipes hanging together on the 
wall opposite, and a neat round table placed as accurately as 
possible in the middle of the floor. On the table were tea- 
things, bread, butter, a pot of jam, and a musical box in a 
quaint, old-fashioned case; and by the side of the table sat a 
little, rosy-faced, white-haired, simple-looking old man, who 
started up, when the door was opened, with an appearance 
of extreme confusion, and touched the top of the musical box 
so that it might cease playing when it came to the end of the 
air. 

" A lady to speak with you, Sir," said the cheerful shopman. 
"That is Mr. Buschmann, ma am," he added in a lower tone, 
seeing Mrs. Jazeph stop in apparent uncertainty on entering 
the parlor. 

" Will you please to take a seat, ma am ?" said Mr. Busch- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 145 

mann, when the shopman had closed the door and gone back 
to his counter. " Excuse the music ; it will stop directly." 
He spoke these words in a foreign accent, but with perfect 
fluency. 

Mrs. Jazeph looked at him earnestly while he was address 
ing her, and advanced a step or two before she said any 
tiling. "Am I so changed?" she asked softly. "So sadly, 
sadly changed, Uncle Joseph?" 

" Gott im Himmel ! it s her voice it s Sarah Leeson !" 
cried the old man, running up to his visitor as nimbly as if 
he was a boy again, taking both her hands, and kissing her 
with an odd, brisk tenderness on the cheek. Although his 
niece was not at all above the average height of women, 
Uncle Joseph was so short that he had to raise himself on 
tiptoe to perform the ceremony of embracing her. 

" To think of Sarah coming at last !" he said, pressing her 
into a chair. " After all these years and years, to think of 
Sarah Leeson coming to see Uncle Joseph again !" 

" Sarah still, but not Sarah Leeson," said Mrs. Jazeph, press 
ing her thin, trembling hands firmly together, and looking 
down on the floor while she spoke. 

" Ah ! married ?" said Mr. Btischmann, gayly. "Married, 
of course. Tell me all about your husband, Sarah." 

" He is dead. Dead and forgiven." She murmured the 
last three words in a whisper to herself. 

" Ah ! I am so sorry for you ! I spoke too suddenly, did 
I not, my child ?" said the old man. " Never mind ! No, 
no; I don t mean that I mean let us talk of something else. 
You will have a bit of bread and jam, won t you, Sarah ? 
ravishing raspberry jam that melts in your mouth. Some 
tea, then ? So, so, she will have some tea, to be sure. And 
we won t talk of our troubles at least, not just yet. You 
look very pale, Sarah very much older than you ought to 
look no, I don t mean that either; I don t mean to be rude. 
It was your voice I knew you by, my child your voice that 
your poor Uncle Max always said would have made your for 
tune if you would only have learned to sing. Here s his 
pretty music box going still. Don t look so downhearted 
don t, pray. Do listen a little to the music : you remember 
the box? my brother Max s box? Why, how you look! 
Have you forgotten the box that the divine Mozart gave to 



146 THE DEAD SECKET. 

my brother with his own hand, when Max was a boy in the 
music school at Vienna? Listen ! I have set it going again. 
It s a song they call Batti, Batti ; it s a song in an opera of 
Mozart s. Ah ! beautiful ! beautiful ! Your Uncle Max said 
that all music was comprehended in that one song. I know 
nothing about music, but I have my heart and my ears, and 
they tell me that Max was right." 

Speaking these words with abundant gesticulation and 
amazing volubility, Mr. Buschmann poured out a cup of tea 
for his niece, stirred it carefully, and, patting her on the 
shoulder, begged that she would make him happy by drink 
ing it all up directly. As he came close to her to press this 
request, he discovered that the tears were in her eyes, and 
that she was trying to take her handkerchief from her pock 
et without being observed. 

" Don t mind me," she said, seeing the old man s face sad 
den as he looked at her; "and don t think me forgetful or 
ungrateful, Uncle Joseph. I remember the box I remem 
ber every thing that you used to take an interest in, when I 
was younger and happier than I am now. When I last saw 
you, I came to you in trouble ; and I come to you in trouble 
once more. It seems neglectful in me never to have written 
to you for so many years past ; but my life has been a very 
sad one, and I thought I had no right to lay the burden of 
my sorrow on other shoulders than my own." 

Uncle Joseph shook his head at these last words, and 
touched the stop of the musical box. " Mozart shall wait a 
little," he said, gravely, "till I have told you something. 
Sarah, hear what I say, and drink your tea, and own to me 
whether I speak the truth or not. What did I, Joseph 
Buschmann, tell you, when you first came to me in trouble, 
fourteen, fifteen, ah more ! sixteen years ago, in this town, 
and in this same house ? I said then, what I say again now : 
Sarah s sorrow is my sorrow, and Sarah s joy is my joy ; and 
if any man asks me reasons for that, I have three to give 
him." 

He stopped to stir up his niece s tea for the second time, 
and to draw her attention to it by tapping with the spoon 
on the edge of the cup. 

" Three reasons," he resumed. " First, you are my sistet s 
child some of her flesh and blood, and some of mine, there- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 147 

fore, also. Second, my sister, my brother, and lastly me my 
self, we owe to your good English father all. A little word 
that means much, and may be said again and again all. 
Your father s friends cry, Fie ! Agatha Buschmann is poor ! 
Agatha Buschmann is foreign ! But your father loves the 
poor German girl, and he marries her in spite of their Fie, 
Fie. Your father s friends cry Fie ! again ; Agatha Busch 
mann has a musician brother, who gabbles to us about Mo 
zart, and who can not make to his porridge salt. Your fa 
ther says, Good ! I like his gabble ; I like his playing ; I 
shall get him people to teach ; and while I have pinches of 
salt in my kitchen, he to his porridge shall have pinches of 
salt too. Your fathers friends cry Fie ! for the third time. 
Agatha Buschmann has another brother, a little Stupid- 
Head, who to the other s gabble can only listen and say 
Amen. Send him trotting; for the love of Heaven, shut up 
all the doors and send Stupid-Head trotting, at least. Your 
father says, No ! Stupid-Head has his wits in his hands; he 
can cut and carve and polish ; help him a little at the start 
ing, and after he shall help himself. They are all gone now 
but me ! Your father, your mother, and Uncle Max they 
are all gone. Stupid-Head alone remains to remember and 
to be grateful to take Sarah s sorrow for his sorrow, and 
Sarah s joy for his joy." 

He stopped again to blow a speck of dust off the musical 
box. His niece endeavored to speak, but he held up his 
hand, and shook his forefinger at her warningly. 

" No," he said. " It is yet my business to talk, and your 
business to drink tea. Have I not my third reason still ? 
Ah ! you look away from me ; you know my third reason 
before I say a word. When I, in my turn, marry, and my 
wife dies, and leaves me alone with little Joseph, and when 
the boy falls sick, who comes then, so quiet, so pretty, so 
neat, with the bright young eyes, and the hands so tender 
and light? Who helps me with little Joseph by night and 
by day ? Who makes a pillow for him on her arm when his 
head is w r eary? Who holds this box patiently at his ear? 
yes ! this box, that the hand of Mozart has touched who 
holds it closer, closer always, when little Joseph s sense grows 
dull, and he moans for the friendly music that he has known 
from a baby, the friendly music that he can now so hardly, 

G2 



148 THE DEAD SECRET. 

hardly hear? Who kneels down by Uncle Joseph when his 
heart is breaking, and says, Oh, hush ! hush ! The boy is 
gone where the better music plays, where the sickness shall 
never waste or the sorrow touch him more? Who? Ah, 
Sarah ! you can not forget those days ; you can not forget 
the Long Ago ! When the trouble is bitter, and the burden 
is heavy, it is cruelty to Uncle Joseph to keep away ; it is 
kindness to him to come here." 

The recollections that the old man had called up found 
their way tenderly to Sarah s heart. She could not answer 
him; she could only hold out her hand. Uncle Joseph bent 
down, with a quaint, affectionate gallantry, and kissed it ; 
then stepped back again to his place by the musical box. 
" Come !" he said, patting it cheerfully, " we will say no more 
for a while. Mozart s box, Max s box, little Joseph s box, 
you shall talk to us again !" 

Having put the tiny machinery in motion, he sat down by 
the table, and remained silent until the air had been played 
over twice. Then observing that his niece seemed calmer, 
lie spoke to her once more. 

"You are in trouble, Sarah," he said, quietly. "You tell 
me that, and I see it is true in your face. Are you grieving 
for your husband ?" 

" I grieve that I ever met him," she answered. " I grieve 
that I ever married him. Now that he is dead, I can not 
grieve I can only forgive him." 

" Forgive him ? How you look, Sarah, when you say that ! 
Tell me" 

"Uncle Joseph! I have told you that my husband is 
dead, and that I have forgiven him." 

"You have forgiven him? He was hard and cruel with 
you, then ? I see ; I see. That is the end, Sarah but the 
beginning ? Is the beginning that you loved him ?" 

Her pale cheeks flushed ; and she turned her head aside. 
" It is hard and humbling to confess it," she murmured, with 
out raising her eyes ; " but you force the truth from me, un 
cle. I had no love to give to my husband no love to give 
to any man." 

"And yet you married him! Wait! it is not for me to 
blame. It is for me to find out, not the bad, but the good. 
Yes, yes ; I shall say to myself, she married him when she 



THE DEAD SECRET. 149 

was poor and helpless; she married him when she should 
have come to Uncle Joseph instead. I shall say that to my 
self, and I shall pity, but I shall ask no more." 

Sarah half reached her hand out to the old man again 
then suddenly pushed her chair back, and changed the posi 
tion in which she was sitting. " It is true that I was poor," 
she said, looking about her in confusion, and speaking with 
difficulty. " But you are so kind and so good, I can not ac 
cept the excuse that your forbearance makes for me. I did 
not marry him because I was poor, but She stopped, 
clasped her hands together, and pushed her chair back still 
farther from the table. 

" So ! so !" said the old man, noticing her confusion. " We 
will talk about it no more." 

" I had no excuse of love ; I had no excuse of poverty," 
she said, with a sudden burst of bitterness and despair. 
u Uncle Joseph, I married him because I was too weak to 
persist in saying No ! The curse of weakness and fear has 
followed me all the days of my life ! I said No to him once. 
I said No to him twice. Oh, uncle, if I could only have said 
it for the third time ! But he followed me, he frightened 
me, he took away from me all the little will of my own that 
I had. He made me speak as he wished me to speak, and 
go where he wished me to go. No, no, no don t come to 
me, uncle ; don t say any thing. He is gone ; he is dead 
I have got my release ; I have given my pardon ! Oh, if I 
could only go away and hide somewhere ! All people s eyes 
seem to look through me ; all people s words seem to threat 
en me. My heart has been weary ever since I was a young 
woman ; and all these long, long years it has never got any 
rest. Hush ! the man in the shop I forgot the man in the 
shop. He will hear us; let us talk in a whisper. What 
made me break out so ? I m always wrong. Oh me ! I m 
wrong when I speak ; I m wrong when I say nothing ; wher 
ever I go and whatever I do, I m not like other people. I 
seem never to have grown up in my mind since I was a 
little child. Hark ! the man in the shop is moving has 
he heard me? Oh, Uncle Joseph! do you think he has 
heard me ?" 

Looking hardly less startled than his niece, Uncle Joseph 
assured her that the door was solid, that the man s place in 



150 THE DEAD SECKET. 

the shop was at some distance from it, and that it was im 
possible, even- if he heard voices in the parlor, that he could 
also distinguish any words that were spoken in it. 

" You are sure of that ?" she whispered, hurriedly. " Yes, 
yes, you are sure of that, or you would not have told me so, 
would you ? We may go on talking now. Not about my 
married life : that is buried and past. Say that I had some 
years of sorrow and suffering, which I deserved say that I 
had other years of quiet, when I was living in service with 
masters and mistresses who were often kind to me when my 
fellow-servants were not say just that much about my life, 
and it is saying enough. The trouble that I am in now, the 
trouble that brings me to you, goes back further than the 
years we have been talking about goes back, back, back, 
Uncle Joseph, to the distant day when we last met." 

" Goes back all through the sixteen years !" exclaimed the 
old man, incredulously. " Goes back, Sarah, even to the Long 
Ago !" 

" Even to that time. Uncle, you remember where I was 
living, and what had happened to me, when " 

" When you came here in secret ? When you asked me to 
hide you ? That was the same week, Sarah, when your mis 
tress died; your mistress who lived away west in the old 
house. You were frightened, then pale and frightened as 
I see you now." 

" As every one sees me ! People are always staring at 
me ; always thinking that I am nervous, always pitying me 
for being ill." 

Saying these words with a sudden fretfulness, she lifted 
the tea-cup by her side to her lips, drained it of its contents 
at a draught, and pushed it across the table to be filled again. 
" I have come all over thirsty and hot," she whispered. 
" More tea, Uncle Joseph more tea." 

" It is cold," said the old man. " Wait till I ask for hot 
water." 

"No!" she exclaimed, stopping him as he was about to 
rise. " Give it me cold; I like it cold. Let nobody else come 
in I can t speak if any body else comes in." She drew her 
chair close to her uncle s, and went on : " You have not for 
gotten how frightened I was in that by-gone time do you 
remember why I was frightened ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 151 

" You were afraid of being followed that was it, Sarah. 
I grow old, but ray memory keeps young. You were afraid 
of your master, afraid of his sending servants after you. You 
had run away ; you had spoken no word to any body ; and 
you spoke little ah, very, very little even to Uncle Joseph 
even to me." 

" I told you," said Sarah, dropping her voice to so faint 
a whisper that the old man could barely hear her "I told 
you that my mistress had left me a Secret on her death-bed 
a Secret in a letter, which I was to give to my master. I 
told you I had hidden the letter, because I could not bring 
myself to deliver it, because I would rather die a thousand 
times over than be questioned about what I knew of it. I 
told you so much, I know. Did I tell you no more? Did I 
not say that my mistress made me take an oath on the Bi 
ble? Uncle! are there candles in the room? Are there 
candles we can light without disturbing any body, without 
calling any body in here ?" 

"There are candles and a match-box in my cupboard," 
answered Uncle Joseph. " But look out of window, Sarah. 
It is only twilight it is not dark yet." 

" Not outside ; but it is dark here." 

" Where ?" 

" In that corner. Let us have candles. I don t like the 
darkness when it gathers in corners and creeps along 
walls." 

Uncle Joseph looked all round the room inquiringly; and 
smiled to himself as he took two candles from the cupboard 
and lighted them. "You are like the children," he said, 
playfully, while he pulled down the window-blind. "You 
are afraid of the dark." 

Sarah did not appear to hear him. Her eyes were fixed 
on the corner of the room which she had pointed out the mo 
ment before. When he resumed his place by her side, she 
never looked round, but laid her hand on his arm, and said 
to him suddenly 

" Uncle ! Do you believe that the dead can come back to 
this world, and follow the living every where, and see what 
they do in it ?" 

The old man started. "Sarah!" he said, "why do you talk 
so? Why do you ask me such a question?" 



152 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Are there lonely hours," she went on, still never looking 
away from the corner, still not seeming to hear him, " when 
you are sometimes frightened without knowing why fright 
ened all over in an instant, from head to foot ? Tell me, un 
cle, have you ever felt the cold steal round and round the 
roots of your hair, and crawl bit by bit down your back ? I 
have felt that even in the summer. I have been out of doors, 
alone on a wide heath, in the heat and brightness of noon, 
and have felt as if chilly fingers were touching me chilly, 
damp, softly creeping fingers. It says in the New Testa 
ment that the dead came once out of their graves, and went 
into the holy city. The dead ! Have they rested, rested al 
ways, rested forever, since that time ?" 

Uncle Joseph s simple nature recoiled in bewilderment 
from the dark and daring speculations to which his niece s 
questions led. Without saying a word, he tried to draw 
away the arm which she still held ; but the only result of 
the effort was to make her tighten her grasp, and bend for- 
ward in her chair so as to look closer still into the corner of 
the room. 

"My mistress was dying," she said "my mistress was 
very near her grave, when she made me take my oath on the 
Bible. She made me swear never to destroy the letter; and 
I did not destroy it. She made me swear not to take it away 
with me, if I left the house; and I did not take it away. She 
would have made me swear, for the third time, to give it to 
my master, but death was too quick for her death stopped 
her from fastening that third oath on my conscience. But 
she threatened me, uncle, with the dead dampness on her 
forehead, and the dead whiteness on her cheeks she threat 
ened to come to me from the other world if I thwarted her 
and I have thwarted her !" 

She stopped, suddenly removed her hand from the old 
man s arm, and made a strange gesture with it toward the 
part of the room on which her eyes remained fixed. "Rest, 
mistress, rest," she whispered under her breath. " Is my 
master alive now? Rest, till the drowned rise. Tell him 
the Secret when the sea gives up her dead." 

"Sarah! Sarah ! you are changed you are ill you fright 
en me !" cried Uncle Joseph, starting to his feet. 

She turned round slowly, and looked at him with eyes void 



THE DEAD SECRET. 153 

of all expression, with eyes that seemed to be staring through 
him vacantly at something beyond. 

"Gott im Himmel! what does she see?" He looked round 
as the exclamation escaped him. " Sarah ! what is it ! Are 
you faint ? Are you ill ? Are you dreaming with your eyes 
open ?" 

He took her by both arms and shook her. At the instant 
when she felt the touch of his hands, she started violently 
and trembled all over. Their natural expression flew back 
into her eyes with the rapidity of a flash of light. Without 
saying a word, she hastily resumed her seat and began stir 
ring the cold tea round and round in her cup, round and round 
so fast that the liquid overflowed into the saucer. 

" Come ! she gets more like herself," said Uncle Joseph, 
watching her. 

" More like myself?" she repeated, vacantly. 

" So ! so !" said the old man, trying to soothe her. " You 
are ill what the English call out of sort. They are good 
doctors here. Wait till to-morrow, you shall have the best." 

" I want no doctors. Don t speak of doctors. I can t bear 
them ; they look at me with such curious eyes ; they are al 
ways prying into me, as if they wanted to find out something. 
What have we been stopping for? I had so much to say; 
and we seem to have been stopping just when we ought to 
have been going on. I am in grief and terror, Uncle Joseph ; 
in grief and terror again about the Secret " 

" No more of that !" pleaded the old man. " No more 
to-night at least !" 

" Why not ?" 

" Because you will be ill again with talking about it. You 
will be looking into that corner, and dreaming with your eyes 
open. You are too ill yes, yes, Sarah ; you are too ill." 

" I m not ill ! Oh, why does every body keep telling me 
that I am ill? Let me talk about it, uncle. I have come to 
talk about it ; I can t rest till I have told you." 

She spoke with a changing color and an embarrassed man 
ner, now apparently conscious for the first time that she had 
allowed words and actions to escape her which it would have 
been more prudent to have restrained. 

" Don t notice me again," she said, with her soft voice, and 
her gentle, pleading manner. " Don t notice me if I talk or 



154 THE DEAD SECRET. 

look as I ought not. I lose myself sometimes, without know 
ing it; and I suppose I lost myself just now. It means 
nothing, Uncle Joseph nothing, indeed." 

Endeavoring thus to re-assure the old man, she again al 
tered the position of her chair, so as to place her back toward 
the part of the room to which her face had been hitherto 
turned. 

" Well, well, it is good to hear that," said Uncle Joseph ; 
" but speak no more about the past time, for fear you should 
lose yourself again. Let us hear about what is now. Yes, 
yes, give me my way. Leave the Long Ago to me, and take 
you the present time. I can go back through the sixteen 
years as well as you. Ah ! you doubt it ? Hear me tell you 
what happened when we last met hear me prove myself in 
three words : You leave your place at the old house you run 
away here you stop in hiding with me, while your master 
and his servants are hunting after you you start off, when 
your road is clear, to work for your living, as far away from 
Cornwall as you can get I beg and pray you to stop with 
me, but you are afraid of your master, and away you go. 
There ! that is the whole story of your trouble the last time 
you came to this house. Leave it so; and tell me what is 
the cause of your trouble now." 

" The past cause of my trouble, Uncle Joseph, and the pres 
ent cause of my trouble are the same. The Secret " 

" What ! you will go back to that !" 

" I must go back to it." 

"And why?" 

" Because the Secret is written in a letter " 

" Yes ; and what of that ?" 

" And the letter is in danger of being discovered. It is, 
uncle it is ! Sixteen years it has lain hidden and now, 
after all that long time, the dreadful chance of its being 
dragged to light has come like a judgment. The one person 
in all the world who ought never to set eyes on that letter 
is the very person who is most likely to find it !" 

" So ! so ! Are you very certain, Sarah ? How do you 
know it ?" 

"I know it from her own lips. Chance brought us to 
gether " 

" Us ? us ? What do you mean by us ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 155 

"I mean uncle, you remember that Captain Treverton 
was my master when I lived at Porthgenna Tower?" 

" I had forgotten his name. But no matter go on." 

" When I left my place, Miss Treverton was a little girl of 
five years old. She is a married woman now so beautiful, 
so clever, such a sweet, youthful, happy face ! And she has 
a child as lovely as herself. Oh, uncle, if you could see her ! 
I would give so much if you could only see her !" 

Uncle Joseph kissed his hand and shrugged his shoulders ; 
expressing by the first action homage to the lady s beauty, 
and by the second resignation under the misfortune of not 
being able to see her. " Well, well," he said, philosophically, 
"put this shining woman by, and let us go on." 

" Her name is Frankland now," said Sarah. " A prettier 
name than Treverton a much prettier name, I think. Her 
husband is fond of her I am sure he is. How can he have 
any heart at all, and not be fond of her ?" 

" So ! so !" exclaimed Uncle Joseph, looking very much 
perplexed. " Good, if he is fond of her very good. But 
what labyrinth are we getting into now ? Wherefore all this 
about a husband and a wife ? My word of honor, Sarah, but 
your explanation explains nothing it only softens my 
brains." 

" I must speak of her and of Mr. Frankland, uncle. Porth 
genna Tower belongs to her husband now, and they are both 
going to live there." 

" Ah ! we are getting back into the straight road at last." 

" They are going to live in the very house that holds the 
Secret ; they are going to repair that very part of it where 
the letter is hidden. She will go into the old rooms I heard 
her say so ; she will search about in them to amuse her curi 
osity ; workmen will clear them out, and she will stand by 
in her idle hours, looking on." 

" But she suspects nothing of the Secret ?" 

" God forbid she ever should !" 

" And there are many rooms in the house ? And the letter 
in which the Secret is written is hidden in one of the many ? 
Why should she hit on that one ?" 

" Because I always say the wrong thing ! because I always 
get frightened and lose myself at the wrong time ! The let 
ter is hidden in a room called the Myrtle Room, and I was 



156 THE DEAD SECKET. 

foolish enough, weak enough, crazed enough, to warn her 
against going into it." 

"Ah, Sarah ! Sarah ! that was a mistake, indeed." 

" I can t tell what possessed me I seemed to lose my senses 
when I heard her talking so innocently of amusing herself 
by searching through the old rooms, and when I thought of 
what she might find there. It was getting on toward night, 
too ; the horrible twilight was gathering in the corners and 
creeping along the walls. I longed to light the candles, and 
yet I did not dare, for fear she should see the truth in my face. 
And when I did light them it was worse. Oh, I don t know 
how I did it ! I don t know why I did it ! I could have 
torn my tongue out for saying the words, and still I said 
them. Other people can think for the best ; other people 
can act for the best ; other people have had a heavy weight 
laid on their minds, and have not dropped under it as I have. 
Help me, uncle, for the sake of old times when we were 
happy help me with a word of advice." 

" I will help you ; I live to help you, Sarah ! No, no, no 
you must not look so forlorn ; you must not look at me with 
those crying eyes. Come ! I will advise this minute but 
say in what ; only say in what." 

" Have I not told you ?" 

" No ; you have not told me a word yet." 

" I will tell you now." 

She paused, looked away distrustfully toward the door lead 
ing into the shop, listened a little, and resumed : "I am not 
at the end of my journey yet, Uncle Joseph I am here on 
my way to Porthgenna Tower on my way to the Myrtle 
Room on my way, step by step, to the place where the letter 
lies hid. I dare not destroy it ; I dare not remove it ; but run 
what risk I may, I must take it out of the Myrtle Room." 

Uncle Joseph said nothing, but he shook his head despoil d- 
ingly. 

"I must," she repeated; "before Mrs. Frankland gets to 
Porthgenna, I must take that letter out of the Myrtle Room. 
There are places in the old house where I may hide it again 
places that she would never think of places that she 
would never notice. Only let me get it out of the one room 
that she is sure to search in. and I know where to hide it 
from her and from every one forever." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 157 

Uncle Joseph reflected, and shook his head again then 
said : " One word, Sarah ; does Mrs. Frankland know which 
is the Myrtle Room ?" 

" I did my best to destroy all trace of that name when I 
hid the letter; I hope and believe she does not. But she 
may find out remember the words I was crazed enough to 
speak ; they will set her seeking for the Myrtle Room ; they 
are sure to do that." 

" And if she finds it ? And if she finds the letter ?" 

" It will cause misery to innocent people ; it will bring 
death to me. Don t push your chair from me, uncle ! It is 
not shameful death I speak of. The worst injury I have 
done is injury to myself; the worst death I have to fear is 
the death that releases a worn-out spirit and cures a broken 
heart." 

"Enough enough so," said the old man. "I ask for no 
secret, Sarah, that is not yours to give. It is all dark to me 
very dark, very confused. I look away from it ; I look only 
toward you. Not with doubt, my child, but with pity, and 
with sorrow, too sorrow that ever you went near that 
house of Porthgenna sorrow that you are now going to it 
again." 

" I have no choice, uncle, but to go. If every step on the 
road to Porthgenna took me nearer and nearer to my death, 
I must still tread it. Knowing what I know, I can t rest, I 
can t sleep my very breath won t come freely till I have 
got that letter out of the Myrtle Room. How to do it oh, 
Uncle Joseph, how to do it, without being suspected, without 
being discovered by any body that is what I would almost 
give my life to know ! You are a man ; you are older and 
wiser than I am ; no living creature ever asked you for help 
in vain help me now ! my only friend in all the world, help 
me a little with a word of advice !" 

Uncle Joseph rose from his chair, and folded his arms res 
olutely, and looked his niece full in the face. 

" You will go ?" he said. " Cost what it may, you will go ? 
Say, for the last time, Sarah, is it yes or no ?" 

" Yes ! For the last time, I say Yes." 

"Good. And you will go soon?" * 

"I must go to-morrow. I dare not waste a single day; 
hours even may be precious for any thing I can tell." 



158 THE DEAD SECKET. 

" You promise me, my child, that the hiding of this Secret 
does good, and that the finding of it will do harm?" 

" If it was the last word I had to speak in this world, I 
would say Yes !" 

" You promise me, also, that you want nothing but to take 
the letter out of the Myrtle Room, and put it away some 
where else ?" 

" Nothing but that." 

"And it is yours to take and yours to put? No person 
has a better right to touch it than you ?" 

" Now that my master is dead, no person." 

" Good. You have given me my resolution. I have done. 
Sit you there, Sarah ; and wonder, if you like, but say noth 
ing." With these words, Uncle Joseph stepped lightly to the 
door leading into the shop, opened it, and called to the man 
behind the counter. 

" Samuel, my friend," he said. " To-morrow I go a little 
ways into the country with my niece, who is this lady here. 
You keep shop and take orders, and be just as careful as you 
always are, till I get back. If any body comes and asks for 
Mr. Buschmann, say he has gone a little ways into the coun 
try, and will be back in a few days. That is all. Shut up 
the shop, Samuel, my friend, for the night ; and go to your 
supper. I wish you good appetite, nice victuals, and sound 
sleep." 

Before Samuel could thank his master, the door was shut 
again. Before Sarah could say a word, Uncle Joseph s hand 
was on her lips, and Uncle Joseph s handkerchief was wiping 
away the tears that were now falling fast from her eyes. 

" I will have no more talking, and no more crying," said 
the old man. " I am a German, and I glory in the obstinacy 
of six Englishmen, all rolled into one. To-night you sleep 
here, to-morrow we talk again of all this. You want me to 
help you with a word of advice. I will help you with my 
self, which is better than advice, and I say no more till I 
fetch my pipe down from the wall there, and ask him to make 
me think. I smoke and think to-night I talk and do to-mor 
row. And you, you go up to bed ; you take Uncle Max s 
music box in your hand, and you let Mozart sing the cradle 
song before you go to sleep. Yes, yes, my child, there is al 
ways comfort in Mozart better comfort than in crying. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 159 

What is there to cry about, or to thank about ? Is it so 
great a wonder that I will not let my sister s child go alone 
to make a venture in the dark? I said Sarah s sorrow was 
my sorrow, and Sarah s joy my joy ; and now, if there is no 
way of escape if it must indeed be done I also say: Sa 
rah s risk to-morrow is Uncle Joseph s risk to-morrow, too! 
Good-night, my child good-night." 



CHAPTER II. 

OUTSIDE THE HOUSE. 

THE next morning wrought no change in the resolution at 
which Uncle Joseph had arrived overnight. Out of the 
amazement and confusion produced in his mind by his niece s 
avowal of the object that had brought her to Cornwall, he 
had contrived to extract one clear and definite conclusion 
that she was obstinately bent on placing herself in a situation 
of uncertainty, if not of absolute peril. Once persuaded of 
this, his kindly instincts all sprang into action, his natural 
firmness on the side of self-sacrifice asserted itself, and his 
determination not to let Sarah proceed on her journey alone, 
followed as a matter of course. 

Strong in the self-denying generosity of his purpose 
though strong in nothing else when he and his niece met in 
the morning, and when Sarah spoke self-reproachfully of the 
sacrifice that he was making, of the serious hazards to which 
he was exposing himself for her sake, he refused to listen to 
her just as obstinately as he had refused the previous night. 
There was no need, he said, to speak another word on that 
subject. If she had abandoned her intention of going to 
Porthgenna, she had only to say so. If she had not, it w r as 
mere waste of breath to talk any more, for he was deaf in 
both ears to every thing in the shape of a remonstrance that 
she could possibly address to him. Having expressed him 
self in these uncompromising terms, Uncle Joseph abruptly 
dismissed the subject, and tried to turn the conversation to 
a cheerful every-day topic by asking his niece how she had 
passed the night. 

"I was too anxious to sleep," she answered. "I can t 
fight with my fears and misgivings as some people can. All 



160 THE DEAD SECRET. 

night long they keep me waking and thinking as if it was 
day." 

" Thinking about what ?" asked Uncle Joseph. " About the 
letter that is hidden? about the house of Porthgenna? about 
the Myrtle Room ?" 

"About how to get into the Myrtle Room," she said. 
" The more I try to plan and ponder, and settle beforehand 
what I shall do, the more confused and helpless I seem to be. 
All last night, uncle, I was trying to think of some excuse for 
getting inside the doors of Porthgenna Tower and yet, if I 
was standing on the house-step at this moment, I should not 
know what to say when the servant and I first came face to 
face. How are we to persuade them to let us in ? How am 
I to slip out of sight, even if we do get in ? Can t you tell 
me ? you will try, Uncle Joseph I am sure you will try. 
Only help me so far, and I think I can answer for the rest. 
If they keep the keys where they used to keep them in my 
time, ten minutes to myself is all I should want ten minutes, 
only ten short minutes, to make the end of my life easier to 
me than the beginning has been ; to help me to grow old 
quietly and resignedly, if it is God s will that I should live 
out my years. Oh, how happy people must be who have all 
the courage they want ; who are quick and clever, and have 
their wits about them ! You are readier than I am, uncle ; 
you said last night that you would think about how to 
advise me for the best what did your thoughts end in? 
You will make me so much easier if you will only tell me 
that." 

Uncle Joseph nodded assentingly, assumed a look of the 
profoundest gravity, and slowly laid his forefinger along the 
side of his nose. 

" What did I promise you last night ?" he said. " Was it 
not to take my pipe, and ask him to make me think ? Good, 
I smoke three pipes, and think three thoughts. My first 
thought is Wait ! My second thought is again Wait ! My 
third thought is yet once more Wait ! You say you will be 
easy, Sarah, if I tell you the end of all my thoughts. Good, 
I have told you. There is the end you are easy it is all 
right." 

"Wait?" repeated Sarah, with a look of bewilderment 
which suggested any thing rather than a mind at ease. "I 



THE DEAD SECRET. 161 

am afraid, uncle, I don t quite understand. Wait for what ? 
Wait till when ?" 

" Wait till we arrive at the house, to be sure ! Wait till 
we are got outside the door; then is time enough to think 
how we are to get in," said Uncle Joseph, with an air of con 
viction. " You understand now ?" 

"Yes at least I understand better than I did. But there 
is still another difficulty left. Uncle ! I must tell you more 
than I intended ever to tell any body I must tell you that 
the letter is locked up." 

" Locked up in a room ?" 

" Worse than that locked up in something inside the 
room. The key that opens the door even if I get it the 
key that opens the door of the room is not all I want. There 
is another key besides that, a little key She stopped, with 
a confused, startled look. 

"A little key that you have lost?" asked Uncle Joseph. 

" I threw it down the well in the village on the morning 
when I made my escape from Porthgenna. Oh, if I had only 
kept it about me ! If it had only crossed my mind that I 
might w^ant it again !" 

" Well, well ; there is no help for that now. Tell me, Sa 
rah, what the something is which the letter is hidden in." 

"I am afraid of the very walls hearing me." 

" What nonsense ! Come ! whisper it to me." 

She looked all round her distrustfully, and then whispered 
into the old man s ear. He listened eagerly, and laughed 
when she was silent again. " Bah !" he cried. " If that is 
all, make yourself happy. As you wicked English people 
say, it is as easy as lying. Why, my child, you can burst 
him open for yourself." 

"Burst it open? How?" 

Uncle Joseph went to the window-seat, which was made 
on the old-fashioned plan, to serve the purpose of a chest as 
well as a seat. He opened the lid, searched among some 
tools which lay in the receptacle beneath, and took out a 
chisel. " See," he said, demonstrating on the top of the win 
dow-seat the use to which the tool was to be put. " You 
push him in so crick ! Then you pull him up so crack ! 
It is the business of one little moment crick ! crack ! and 
the lock is done for. Take the chisel yourself, wrap him up 

H 



162 THE DEAD SECRET. 

in a bit of that stout paper there, and put him in your pocket. 
What are you waiting for ? Do you want me to show you 
again, or do you think you can do it now for yourself?" 

"I should like you to show me again, Uncle Joseph, but 
not now not till we have got to the end of our journey." 

" Good. Then I may finish my packing up, and go ask 
about the coach. First and foremost, Mozart must put on 
his great coat, and travel with us." He took up the musical 
box, and placed it carefully in a leather case, which he slung 
by a strap over one shoulder. " Next, there is my pipe, the 
tobacco to feed him with, and the matches to set him alight. 
Last, here is my old German knapsack, which I pack last 
night. See ! here is shirt, night-cap, comb, pocket-handker 
chief, sock. Say I am an emperor, and what do I want more 
than that ? Good. I have Mozart, I have the pipe, I have 
the knapsack. I have stop ! stop J there is the old leather 
purse ; he must not be forgotten. Look ! here he is. Listen ! 
Ting, ting, ting ! He jingles ; he has in his inside money. 
Aha, my friend, my good Leather, you shall be lighter and 
leaner before you come home again. So, so it is all com 
plete ; we are ready for the march now, from our tops to our 
toes. Good-by, Sarah, my child, for a little half-hour ; you 
shall wait here and amuse yourself while I go ask for the 
coach." 

When Uncle Joseph came back, he brought his niece in 
formation that a coach would pass through Truro in an hour s 
time, which would set them down at a stage not more than 
five or six miles distant from the regular post-town of Porth- 
genna. The only direct conveyance to the post-town was a 
night-coach which carried the letter-bags, and which stopped 
to change horses at Truro at the very inconvenient hour of 
two o clock in the morning. Being of opinion that to travel 
at bed-time was to make a toil of a pleasure, Uncle Joseph 
recommended taking places in the day-coach, and hiring any 
conveyance that could be afterward obtained to carry his 
niece and himself on to the post-town. By this arrangement 
they would not only secure their own comfort, but gain the 
additional advantage of losing as little time as possible at 
Truro before proceeding on their journey to Porthgenna. 

The plan thus proposed was the plan followed. When the 
coach stopped to change horses, Uncle Joseph and his niece 



THE DEAD SECRET. 163 

were waiting to take their places by it. They found all the 
inside seats but one disengaged, were set down two hours aft 
erward at the stage that was nearest to the destination for 
which they were bound, hired a pony-chaise there, and reached 
the post-town between one and two o clock in the afternoon. 

Dismissing their conveyance at the inn, from motives of 
caution which were urged by Sarah, they set forth to walk 
across the moor to Porthgenna. On their way out of the 
town they met the postman returning from his morning s 
delivery of letters in the surrounding district. His bag had 
been much heavier and his walk much longer that morning 
than usual. Among the extra letters that had taken him out 
of his ordinary course was one addressed to the housekeeper 
at Porthgenna Tower, which he had delivered early in the 
morning, when he first started on his rounds. 

Throughout the whole journey, Uncle Joseph had not made 
a single reference to the object for which it had been under 
taken. Possessing a child s simplicity of nature, he was also 
endowed with a child s elasticity of disposition. The doubts 
and forebodings which troubled his niece s spirit, and kept 
her silent and thoughtful and sad, cast no darkening shadow 
over the natural sunshine of his mind. If he had really been 
traveling for pleasure alone, he could not have enjoyed more 
thoroughly than he did the different sights and events of the 
journey. All the happiness which the passing minute had to 
give him he took as readily and gratefully as if there was no 
uncertainty in the future, no doubt, difficulty, or danger lying 
in wait for him at the journey s end. Before he had been 
half an hour in the coach he had begun to tell the third in 
side passenger a rigid old lady, who stared at him in speech 
less amazement the whole history of the musical box, end 
ing the narrative by setting it playing, in defiance of all the 
noise that the rolling wheels could make. When they left 
the coach, he was just as sociable afterward with the driver 
of the chaise, vaunting the superiority of German beer over 
Cornish cider, and making his remarks upon the objects which 
they passed on the road with the pleasantest familiarity, and 
the heartiest enjoyment of his own jokes. It was not till 
he and Sarah were well out of the little town, and away by 
themselves on the great moor which stretched beyond it, that 
his manner altered, arid his talk ceased altogether. After 



164 THE DEAD SECRET. 

walking on in silence for some little time, with his niece s arm 
in his, he suddenly stopped, looked her earnestly and kindly 
in the face, and laid his hand on hers. 

" There is yet one thing more I want to ask you, my child," 
he said. " The journey has put it out of my head, but it has 
been in my heart all the time. When we leave this place of 
Porthgenna, and get back to my house, you will not go away? 
you will not leave Uncle Joseph again ? Are you in service 
still, Sarah ? Are you not your own master yet ?" 

" I was in service a few days since," she answered ; " but I 
am free now. I have lost my place." 

" Aha ! You have lost your place ; and why ?" 

"Because I would not hear an innocent person unjustly 
blamed. Because " 

She checked herself. But the few words she had said were 
spoken with such a suddenly heightened color, and with such 
an extraordinary emphasis and resolution of tone, that the 
old man opened his eyes as widely as possible, and looked at 
his niece in undisguised astonishment. 

" So ! so ! so !" he exclaimed. " What ! You have had a 
quarrel, Sarah !" 

" Hush ! Don t ask me any more questions now !" she 
pleaded earnestly. "I am too anxious and too frightened to 
answer. Uncle ! this is Porthgenna Moor this is the road 
I passed over, sixteen years ago, when I ran away to you. 
Oh ! let us get on, pray let us get on ! I can t think of any 
thing now but the house we are so near, and the risk we are 
going to run." 

They went on quickly, in silence. Half an hour s rapid 
walking brought them to the highest elevation on the moor, 
and gave the w r hole western prospect grandly to their view. 

There, below them, was the dark, lonesome, spacious struct 
ure of Porthgenna Tower, with the sunlight already stealing 
round toward the windows of the west front ! There was 
the path winding away to it gracefully over the brown moor, 
in curves of dazzling white ! There, lower down, was the sol 
itary old church, with the peaceful burial-ground nestling by 
its side ! There, lower still, were the little scattered roofs of 
the fishermen s cottages ! And there, beyond all, was the 
changeless glory of the sea, with its old seething lines of 
white foam, with the old winding margin of its yellow shores ! 



THE DEAD SECRET. 165 

Sixteen long years such years of sorrow, such years of suf 
fering, such years of change, counted by the pulses of the liv 
ing heart ! had passed over the dead tranquillity of Porth- 
genna, and had altered it as little as if they had all been con 
tained within the lapse of a single day! 

The moments when the spirit within us is most deeply 
stirred are almost invariably the moments also when its out 
ward manifestations are hardest to detect. Our own thoughts 

O 

rise above us ; our own feelings lie deeper than we can reach. 
How seldom words can help us, when their help is most 
wanted ! How often our tears are dried up when we most 
long for them to relieve us ! Was there ever a strong emo 
tion in this world that could adequately express its own 
strength ? What third person, brought face to face with the 
old man and his niece, as they now stood together on the 
moor, would have suspected, to look at them, that the one 
was contemplating the landscape with nothing more than 
a stranger s curiosity, and that the other was viewing it 
through the recollections of half a lifetime? The eyes of 
both were dry, the tongues of both were silent, the faces of 
both were set with equal attention toward the prospect. 
Even between themselves there was no real sympathy, no in 
telligible appeal from one spirit to the other. The old man s 
quiet admiration of the view was not more briefly and read 
ily expressed, when they moved forward and spoke to each 
other, than the customary phrases of assent by which his 
niece replied to the little that he said. How many moments 
there are in this mortal life, when, with all our boasted powers 
of speech, the words of our vocabulary treacherously fade out, 
and the page presents nothing to us but the sight of a per 
fect blank ! 

Slowly descending the slope of the moor, the uncle and 
niece drew nearer and nearer to Porthgenna Tower. They 
were within a quarter of an hour s walk of the house when 
Sarah stopped at a place where a second path intersected the 
main foot-track which they had hitherto been following. On 
the left hand, as they now stood, the cross-path ran on until 
it was lost to the eye in the expanse of the moor. On the 
right hand it led straight to the church. 

" What do we stop for now ?" asked Uncle Joseph, looking 
first in one direction and then in the other. 



166 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Would you mind waiting for me here a little while, uncle? 
I can t pass the church path " (she paused, in some trouble 
how to express herself) " without wishing (as I don t know 
what may happen after we get to the house), without wish 
ing to see to look at something She stopped again, 
and turned her face wistfully toward the church. The tears, 
which had never wetted her eyes at the first view of Porth- 
genna, were beginning to rise in them now. 

Uncle Joseph s natural delicacy warned him that it would 
be best to abstain from asking her for any explanations. 

"Go you where you like, to see what you like," he said, 
patting her on the shoulder. " I shall stop here to make my 
self happy with my pipe; and Mozart shall come out of his 
cage, and sing a little in this fine fresh air." He unslung the 
leather case from his shoulder while he spoke, took out the 
musical box, and set it ringing its tiny peal to the second of 
the two airs which it was constructed to play the minuet in 
Don Giovanni. Sarah left him looking about carefully, not 
for a seat for himself, but for a smooth bit of rock to place 
the box upon. When he had found this, he lit his pipe, and 
sat down to his music and his smoking, like an epicure to a 
good dinner. " Aha !" he exclaimed to himself, looking round 
as composedly at the wild prospect on all sides of him as if 
he was still in his own little parlor at Truro " Aha ! Here is 
a fine big music-room, my friend Mozart, for you to sing in ! 
Ouf ! there is wind enough in this place to blow your pretty 
dance-tune out to sea, and give the sailor-people a taste of it 
as they roll about in their ships." 

Meanwhile Sarah walked on rapidly toward the church, 
and entered the inclosure of the little burial-ground. Toward 
that same part of it to which she had directed her steps on 
the morning of her mistress s death, she now turned her face 
again, after a lapse of sixteen years. Here, at least, the march 
of time had left its palpable track its foot-prints whose marks 
were graves. How many a little spot of ground, empty when 
she last saw it, had its mound and its head-stone now ! The 
one grave that she had come to see the grave which had 
stood apart in the by -gone days, had companion graves on 
the right hand and on the left. She could not have singled 
it out but for the weather stains on the head-stone, which 
told of storm and rain over it, that had not passed over the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 167 

rest. The mound was still kept in shape; but the grass 
grew long, and waved a dreary welcome to her as the wind 
swept through it. She knelt down by the stone, and tried 
to read the inscription. The black paint which had once 
made the carved words distinct was all flayed off from them 
now. To any other eyes but hers the very name of the dead 
man would have been hard to trace. She sighed heavily as 
she followed the letters of the inscription mechanically, one 
by one, with her finger : 

SACKED TO THE MEMORY 



OF 



AGED 26 YEARS. 

HE MET WITH HIS DEATH 

THROUGH THE FALL OF A ROCK 

IN 

PORTHGENNA MINE, 
DECEMBER 17TH, 1823. 

Her hand lingered over the letters after it had followed 
them to the last line, and she bent forward and pressed her 
lips on the stone. 

" Better so !" she said to herself, as she rose from her knees, 
and looked down at the inscription for the last time. " Bet 
ter it should fade out so ! Fewer strangers eyes will see it ; 
fewer strangers feet will follow where mine have been he 
will lie all the quieter in the place of his rest I" 

She brushed the tears from her eyes, and gathered a few 
blades of grass from the grave then left the church-yard. 
Outside the hedge that surrounded the inclosure she stopped 
for a moment, and drew from the bosom of her dress the lit 
tle book of Wesley s Hymns which she had taken with her 
from the desk in her bedroom on the morning of her flight 
from Porthgenna. The withered remains of the grass that 
she had plucked from the grave sixteen years ago lay between 
the pages still. She added to them the fresh fragments that 
she had just gathered, replaced the book in the bosom of her 
dress, and hastened back over the moor to the spot where the 
old man was waiting for her. 

She found him packing up the musical box again in its 

H2 



168 THE DEAD SECRET. 

leather case. " A good wind," he said, holding up the palm 
of his hand to the fresh breeze that was sweeping over the 
moor " A very good wind, indeed, if you take him by him 
self but a bitter bad wind if you take him with Mozart. He 
blows off the tune as if it was the hat on my head. You come 
back, my child, just at the nick of time -just when my pipe 
is done, and Mozart is ready to travel along the road once 
more. Ah, have you got the crying look in your eyes again, 
Sarah? What have you met with to make you cry? So! 
so ! I see the few r er questions I ask just now, the better you 
will like me. Good. I have done. No ! I have a last ques 
tion yet. What are we standing here for? why do we not 
go on ?" 

" Yes, yes ; you are right, Uncle Joseph ; let us go on at 
once. I shall lose all the little courage I have if we stay 
here much longer looking at the house." 

They proceeded down the path without another moment 
of delay. When they had reached the end of it, they stood 
opposite the eastern boundary wall of Porthgenna Tower. 
The principal entrance to the house, which had been very 
rarely used of late years, was in the west front, and was ap 
proached by a terrace road that overlooked the sea. The 
smaller entrance, which was generally used, was situated on 
the south side of the building, and led through the servants 
offices to the great hall and the west staircase. Sarah s old 
experience of Porthgenna guided her instinctively to\vard 
this part of the house. She led her companion on until they 
gained the southern angle of the east wall then stopped and 
looked about her. Since they had passed the postman and 
had entered on the moor, they had not set eyes on a living 
creature ; and still, though they were now r under the very 
walls of Porthgenna, neither man, woman, nor child not 
even a domestic animal appeared in view. 

" It is very lonely here," said Sarah, looking round her dis 
trustfully ; " much lonelier than it used to be." 

" Is it only to tell me what I can see for myself that you 
are stopping now ?" asked Uncle Joseph, w r hose inveterate 
cheerfulness would have been proof against the solitude of 
Sahara itself. 

"No, no!" she answered, in a quick, anxious whisper. 
" But the bell we must ring at is so close only round there 



THE DEAD 8ECEET. 1G9 

I should like to know what we are to say when we come face 
to lace with the servant. You told me it was time enough 
to think about that when we were at the door. Uncle ! we 
are all but at the door now. What shall we do ?" 

" The first thing to do," said Uncle Joseph, shrugging his 
shoulders, " is surely to ring." 

" Yes but when the servant comes, what are we to say ?" 

" Say ?" repeated Uncle Joseph, knitting his eyebrows quite 
fiercely with the effort of thinking, and rapping his forehead 
with his forefinger just under his hat " Say ? Stop, stop, 
stop, stop ! Ah, I have got it ! I know ! Make yourself 
quite easy, Sarah. The moment the door is opened, all the 
speaking to the servant shall be done by me." 

" Oh, how you relieve me ! What shall you say ?" 

" Say ? This How do you do ? We have come to see 
the house. " 

When he had disclosed that remarkable expedient for ef 
fecting an entrance into Porthgenna Tower, he spread out 
both his hands interrogatively, drew back several paces from 
his niece, and looked at her with the serenely self-satisfied 
air of a man who has leaped, at one mental bound, from a 
doubt to a discovery. Sarah gazed at him in astonishment. 
The expression of absolute conviction on his face staggered 
her. The poorest of all the poor excuses for gaining admis 
sion into the house which she herself had thought of, and 
had rejected, during the previous night, seemed like the very 
perfection of artifice by comparison with such a childlishly 
simple expedient as that suggested by Uncle Joseph. And 
yet there he stood, apparently quite convinced that he had 
hit on the means of smoothing away all obstacles at once. 
Not knowing what to say, not believing sufficiently in the 
validity of her own doubts to venture on openly expressing 
an opinion either one way or the other, she took the last refuge 
that was now left open to her she endeavored to gain time. 

"It is very, very good of you, uncle, to take all the diffi 
culty of speaking to the servant on your own shoulders," she 
said ; the hidden despondency at her heart expressing itself, 
in spite of her, in the faintness of her voice and the forlorn 
perplexity of her eyes. " But would you mind waiting a lit 
tle before we ring at the door, and walking up and down for 
a few minutes by the side of this wall, where nobody is likely 



170 THE DEAD SECRET. 

to see us ? I want to get a little more time to prepare my 
self for the trial that I have to go through ; and and in case 
the servant makes any difficulties about letting us in I mean 
difficulties that we can not just now anticipate would it not 
be as well to think of something else to say at the door? 
Perhaps, if you were to consider again 

" There is not the least need," interposed Uncle Joseph. 
" I have only to speak to the servant, and crick ! crack ! 
you will see that we shall get in. But I will walk up and 
down as long as you please. There is no reason, because I 
have done all my thinking in one moment, that you should 
have done all your thinking in one moment too. No, no, no 
no reason at all." Saying those words with a patronizing 
air and a self-satisfied smile, which would have been irresist 
ibly comical under any less critical circumstances, the old 
man again offered his arm to his niece, and led her back over 
the broken ground that lay under the eastern wall of Porth- 
genna Tower. 

While Sarah was waiting in doubt outside the walls, it 

happened, by a curious coincidence, that another person, 

vested with the highest domestic authority, was also waiting 

in doubt inside the walls. This person was no other than 

! the housekeeper of Porthgenna Tower; and the cause of her 

i perplexity was nothing less than the letter which had been 

| delivered by the postman that very morning. 

It was a letter from Mrs. Frankland, which had been writ 
ten after she had held a long conversation with her husband 
and Mr. Orridge, on receiving the last fragments of informa 
tion which the doctor was able to communicate in reference 
to Mrs. Jazeph. 

The housekeeper had read the letter through over and over 
again, and was more puzzled and astonished by it at every 
fresh reading. She was now waiting for the return of the 
steward, Mr. Munder, from his occupations out of doors, with 
the intention of taking his opinion on the singular communi 
cation which she had received from her mistress. 

While Sarah and her uncle were still walking up and down 
outside the eastern wall, Mr. Munder entered the housekeep 
er s room. He was one of those tall, grave, benevolent-look 
ing men, with a conical head, a deep voice, a slow step, and 



THE DEAD SECRET. 171 

a heavy manner, who passively contrive to get a great repu 
tation for wisdom without the trouble of saying or doing any 
thing to deserve it. All round the Porthgenna neighborhood 
the steward was popularly spoken of as a remarkably sound, 
sensible man ; and the housekeeper, although a sharp woman 
in other matters, in this one respect shared to a large extent 
in the general delusion. 

" Good-morning, Mrs. Pentreath," said Mr. Munder. " Any 
news to-day ?" What a weight and importance his deep voice 
and his impressively slow method of using it, gave to those 
two insignificant sentences ! 

" News, Mr. Munder, that will astonish you," replied the 
housekeeper. "I have received a letter this morning from 
Mrs. Frankland, which is, without any exception, the most 
mystifying thing of the sort I ever met with. I am told to 
communicate the letter to you ; and I have been waiting the 
whole morning to hear your opinion of it. Pray sit down, 
and give me all your attention for I do positively assure 
you that the letter requires it." 

Mr. Munder sat down, and became the picture of attention 
immediately not of ordinary attention, which can be wea 
ried, but of judicial attention, which knows no fatigue, and is 
superior alike to the power of dullness and the power of time. 
The housekeeper, without wasting the precious minutes Mr. 
Munder s minutes, which ranked next on the scale of impor 
tance to a prime minister s ! opened her mistress s letter, and, 
resisting the natural temptation to make a few more prefatory 
remarks on it, immediately favored the steward with the first 
paragraph, in the following terms : 

"MRS. PENTREATH, You must be tired of receiving letters 
from me, fixing a day for the arrival of Mr. Frankland and 
myself. On this, the third occasion of my writing to you 
about our plans, it will be best, I think, to make no third ap 
pointment, but merely to say that we shall leave West Wins 
ton for Porthgenna the moment I can get the doctor s permis 
sion to travel." 

" So far," remarked Mrs. Pentreath, placing the letter on 
her lap, and smoothing it out rather irritably while she spoke 
" so far, there is nothing of much consequence. The letter 



172 THE DEAD SECRET. 

certainly seems to me (between ourselves) to be written in 
rather poor language too much like common talking to come 
up to my idea of what a lady s style of composition ought to 
be but that is a matter of opinion. I can t say, and I should 
be the last person to wish to say, that the beginning of Mrs. 
Frankland s letter is not, upon the whole, perfectly clear. It 
is the middle and the end that I wish to consult you about, 
Mr. Munder." 

" Just so," said Mr. Munder. Only two words, but more 
meaning in them than two hundred in the mouth of an ordi 
nary man ! The housekeeper cleared her throat with ex 
traordinary loudness and elaboration, and read on thus : 

" My principal object in writing these lines is to request, 
by Mr. Frankland s desire, that you and Mr. Munder will en 
deavor to ascertain, as privately as possible, whether a per 
son now traveling in Cornwall in whom we happen to be 
much interested has been yet seen in the neighborhood of 
Porthgenna. The person in question is known to us by the 
name of Mrs. Jazeph. She is an elderly woman, of quiet, lady 
like manners, looking nervous and in delicate health. She 
dresses, according to our experience of her, with extreme 
propriety and neatness, and in dark colors. Her eyes have 
a singular expression of timidity, her voice is particularly 
soft and low, and her manner is frequently marked by ex 
treme hesitation. I am thus particular in describing her, in 
case she should not be traveling under the name by which 
we know her. 

" For reasons which it is not necessary to state, both my 
husband and myself think it probable that, at some former 
period of her life, Mrs. Jazeph may have been connected with 
the Porthgenna neighborhood. Whether this be the fact or 
no, it is indisputably certain that she is familiar with the in 
terior of Porthgenna Tower, and that she has an interest of 
some kind, quite incomprehensible to us, in the house. Coup 
ling these facts with the knowledge we have of her being 
now in Cornwall, we think it just within the range of possi 
bility that you or Mr. Munder, or some other person in our 
employment, may meet with her ; and we are particularly 
anxious, if she should by any chance ask to see the house, 
not only that you should show her over it with perfect read- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 173 

iness and civility, but also that you should take private and 
particular notice of her conduct from the time when she en 
ters the building to the time when she leaves it. Do not let 
her out of your sight for a moment ; and, if possible, pray 
get some trustworthy person to follow her unperceived, and 
ascertain where she goes to after she has quitted the house. 
It is of the most vital importance that these instructions 
(strange as they may seem to you) should be implicitly 
obeyed to the very letter. 

" I have only room and time to add that we know nothing 
to the discredit of this person, and that we particularly de 
sire you will manage matters with sufficient discretion (in 
case you meet with her) to prevent her from having any sus 
picion that you are acting under orders, or that you have any 
especial interest in watching her movements. You will be 
good enough to communicate this letter to the steward, and 
you are at liberty to repeat the instructions in it to any other 
trustworthy person, if necessary. 

" Yours truly, 

" ROSAMOND FRANKLAND. 

"P.S. I have left my room, and the baby is getting on 
charmingly." 

" There !" said the housekeeper. " Who is to make head 
or tail of that, I should like to know ! Did you ever, in all 
your experience, Mr. Munder, meet with such a letter before ? 
Here is a very heavy responsibility laid on our shoulders, 
without one word of explanation. I have been puzzling my 
brains about what their interest in this mysterious woman 
can be the whole morning ; and the more I think, the less 
comes of it. What is your opinion, Mr. Munder? We ought 
to do something immediately. Is there any course in par 
ticular which you feel disposed to point out ?" 

Mr. Munder coughed dubiously, crossed his right leg over 
his left, put his head critically on one side, coughed for the 
second time, and looked at the housekeeper. If it had be 
longed to any other man in the world, Mrs. Pentreath would 
have considered that the face which now confronted hers ex 
pressed nothing but the most profound and vacant bewilder 
ment. But it was Mr. Munder s face, and it was only to be 
looked at with sentiments of respectful expectation. 



174 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" I rather think " began Mr. Munder. 

"Yes?" said the housekeeper, eagerly. 

Before another word could be spoken, the maid-servant 
entered the room to lay the cloth for Mrs. Pentreath s din 
ner. 

"There, there! never mind now, Betsey," said the house 
keeper, impatiently. " Don t lay the cloth till I ring for you. 
Mr. Munder and I have something very important to talk 
about, and we can t be interrupted just yet." 

She had hardly said the word, before an interruption of the 
most unexpected kind happened. The door-bell rang. This 
was a very unusual occurrence at Porthgenna Tower. The 
few persons who had any occasion to come to the house on 
domestic business always entered by a small side gate, which 
was left on the latch in the day-time. 

" Who in the world can that be !" exclaimed Mrs. Pen- 
treath, hastening to the window, which commanded a side 
view of the lower door steps. 

The first object that met her eye when she looked out was 
a lady standing on the lowest step a lady dressed very 
neatly in quiet, dark colors. 

" Good Heavens, Mr. Munder !" cried the housekeeper, hur 
rying back to the table, and snatching up Mrs. Frankland s 
letter, which she had left on it. " There is a stranger wait 
ing at the door at this very moment ! a lady ! or, at least, a 
woman and dressed neatly, dressed in dark colors ! You 
might knock me down, Mr. Munder, with a feather ! Stop, 
Betsey stop where you are !" 

" I was only going, ma am, to answer the door," said Bet 
sey, in amazement. 

" Stop where you are," reiterated Mrs. Pentreath, compos 
ing herself by a great effort. " I happen to have certain rea 
sons, on this particular occasion, for descending out of my 
own place and putting myself into yours. Stand out of the 
I way, you staring fool ! I am going up stairs to answer that 
; ring at the door myself." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 175 



CHAPTER HI. 

INSIDE THE HOUSE. 

MRS. PENTREATH S surprise at seeing a lady through the 
window, was doubled by her amazement at seeing a gentle 
man when she opened the door. Waiting close to the bell- 
handle, after he had rung, instead of rejoining his niece on 
the step, Uncle Joseph stood near enough to the house to be 
out of the range of view from Mrs. Pentreath s window. To 
the housekeeper s excited imagination, he appeared on the 
threshold with the suddenness of an apparition the appari 
tion of a little rosy-faced old gentleman, smiling, bowing, 
and taking off his hat with a superb flourish of politeness, 
which had something quite superhuman in the sweep and the 
dexterity of it. 

" How do you do ? We have come to see the house," said 
Uncle Joseph, trying his infallible expedient for gaining ad 
mission the instant the door was open. 

Mrs. Pentreath was struck speechless. Who was this fa 
miliar old gentleman with the foreign accent and the fantas 
tic bow? and what did he mean by talking to her as if she 
was his intimate friend ? Mrs. Frankland s letter said not so 
much, from beginning to end, as one word about him. 

" How do you do ? We have come to see the house," re 
peated Uncle Joseph, giving his irresistible form of saluta 
tion the benefit of a second trial. 

"So you said just now, Sir," remarked Mrs. Pentreath, re 
covering self-possession enough to use her tongue in her own 
defense. " Does the lady," she continued, looking down over 
the old man s shoulder at the step on which his niece was 
standing " does the lady wish to see the house too ?" 

Sarah s gently spoken reply in the affirmative, short as it 
was, convinced the housekeeper that the woman described 
in Mrs. Frankland s letter really and truly stood before her. 
Besides the neat, quiet dress, there was now the softly toned 
voice, and, when she looked up for a moment, there were the 
timid eyes also to identify her by ! In relation to this one 



176 THE DEAD SECRET. 

of the two strangers, Mrs. Pentreath, however agitated and 
surprised she might be, could no longer feel any uncertainty 
about the course she ought to adopt. But in relation to the 
other visitor, the incomprehensible old foreigner, she was be 
set by the most bewildering doubts. Would it be safest to 
hold to the letter of Mrs. Frankland s instructions, and ask 
him to wait outside while the lady was being shown over 
the house ? or would it be best to act on her own responsi 
bility, and to risk giving him admission as well as his com 
panion ? This was a difficult point to decide, and therefore 
one which it was necessary to submit to the superior sa 
gacity of Mr. Munder. 

" Will you step in for a moment, and wait here while I 
speak to the steward ?" said Mrs. Pentreath, pointedly neg 
lecting to notice the familiar old foreigner, and addressing 
herself straight through him to the lady on the steps be 
low. 

"Thank you very much," said Uncle Joseph, smiling and 
bowing, impervious to rebuke. " What did I tell you ?" he 
whispered triumphantly to his niece, as she passed him on 
her way into the house. 

Mrs. Pentreath s first impulse was to go down stairs at 
once, and speak to Mr. Munder. But a timely recollection of 
that part of Mrs. Frankland s letter which enjoined her not 
to lose sight of the lady in the quiet dress, brought her to a 
stand-still the next moment. She was the more easily re 
called to a remembrance of this particular injunction by a 
curious alteration in the conduct of the lady herself, who 
seemed to lose all her diffidence, and to become surprisingly 
impatient to lead the way into the interior of the house, the 
moment she had stepped across the threshold. 

" Betsey !" cried Mrs. Pentreath, cautiously calling to the 
servant after she had only retired a few paces from the visit 
ors " Betsey ! ask Mr. Munder to be so kind as to step this 
way." 

Mr. Munder presented himself with great deliberation, and 
with a certain lowering dignity in his face. He had been 
accustomed to be treated with deference, and he was not 
pleased with the housekeeper for unceremoniously leaving 
him the moment she heard the ring at the bell, without giv 
ing him time to pronounce an opinion on Mrs. Frankland s 



THE DEAD SECRET. 177 

letter. Accordingly, when Mrs. Pentreath, in a high state 
of excitement, drew him aside out of hearing, and confided 
to him, in a whisper, the astounding intelligence that the 
lady in whom Mr. and Mrs. Franklarid were so mysteriously 
interested was, at that moment, actually standing before 
him in the house, he received her communication with an air 
of the most provoking indifference. It was worse still when 
she proceeded to state her difficulties warily keeping her 
eye on the two strangers all the while. Appeal as respect 
fully as she might to Mr. Munder s superior wisdom for guid 
ance, he persisted in listening with a disparaging frown, and / 
ended by irritably contradicting her when she ventured to 
add, in conclusion, that her own ideas inclined her to assume 
no responsibility, and to beg the foreign gentleman to wait 
outside while the lady, in conformity with Mrs. Frankland s 
instructions, was being shown over the house. 

" Such may be your opinion, ma am," said Mr. Munder, se 
verely. " It is not mine." 

The housekeeper looked aghast. "Perhaps," she suggest 
ed, deferentially, " you think that the foreign old gentleman 
would be likely to insist on going over the house with the 
lady ?" 

"Of course I think so," said Mr. Munder. (He had thought 
nothing of the sort; his only idea just then being the idea of 
asserting his own supremacy by setting himself steadily in 
opposition to any preconceived arrangements of Mrs. Pen 
treath.) 

"Then you would take the responsibility of showing them 
both over the house, seeing that they have both come to the 
door together ?" asked the housekeeper. 

" Of course I would," answered the steward, with the 
promptitude of resolution which distinguishes all superior 
men. 

" Well, Mr. Munder, I am always glad to be guided by your 
opinion, and I will be guided by it now," said Mrs. Pentreath. 
" But, as there will be two people to look after for I would 
not trust the foreigner out of sight on any consideration 
whatever I must really beg you to share the trouble of 
showing them over the house along with me. I am so ex 
cited and nervous that I don t feel as if I had all my wits 
about me I never was placed in such a position as this be- 



178 THE DEAD SECRET. 

fore I am in the midst of mysteries that I don t understand 
and, in short, if I can t count on your assistance, I won t 
answer for it that I shall not make some mistake. I should 
be very sorry to make a mistake, not only on my own ac 
count, but " Here the housekeeper stopped, and looked 
hard at Mr. Munder. 

" Go on, ma am," said Mr. Munder, with cruel composure. 

" Not only on my own account," resumed Mrs. Pentreath, 
demurely, " but on yours ; for Mrs. Frankland s letter cer 
tainly casts the responsibility of conducting this delicate bus 
iness on your shoulders as well as on mine." 

Mr. Munder recoiled a few steps, turned red, opened his 
lips indignantly, hesitated, and closed them again. lie was 
fairly caught in a trap of his own setting. He could not re 
treat from the responsibility of directing the housekeeper s 
conduct, the moment after he had voluntarily assumed it ; 
and he could not deny that Mrs. Frankland s letter positively 
and repeatedly referred to him by name. There was only 
one way of getting out of the difficulty with dignity, and Mr. 
Munder unblushingly took that way the moment he had re 
covered self-possession enough to collect himself for the effort. 

"I am perfectly amazed, Mrs. Pentreath," he began, with 
the gravest dignity. " Yes, I repeat, I am perfectly amazed 
that you should think me capable of leaving you to go over 
the house alone, under such remarkable circumstances as 
those we are now placed in. No, ma am ! whatever my oth 
er faults may be, shrinking from my share of responsibility 
is not one of them. I don t require to be reminded of Mrs. 
Frankland s letter ; and no ! I don t require any apologies. 
I am quite ready, ma am quite ready to show the way up 
stairs whenever you are." 

" The sooner the better, Mr. Munder for there is that au 
dacious old foreigner actually chattering to Betsey now, as 
if he had known her all his life !" 

The assertion was quite true. Uncle Joseph was exercis 
ing his gift of familiarity on the maid-servant (who had lin 
gered to stare at the strangers, instead of going back to the 
kitchen), just as he had already exercised it on the old lady 
passenger in the stage-coach, and on the driver of the pony- 
chaise which took his niece and himself to the post-town of 
Porthgenna. While the housekeeper and the steward were 



THE DEAD SECRET. 179 

holding their private conference, he was keeping Betsey in 
ecstasies of suppressed giggling by the odd questions that he 
asked about the house, and about how she got on with her 
work in it. His inquiries had naturally led from the south 
side of the building, by which he and his companion had en 
tered, to the west side, which they were shortly to explore ; 
and thence round to the north side, which was forbidden 
ground to every body in the house. When Mrs. Pentreath 
came forward with the steward, she overheard this exchange 
of question and answer passing between the foreigner and 
the maid : 

" But tell me, Betzee, my dear," said Uncle Joseph. "Why 
does nobody ever go into these mouldy old rooms?" 

" Because there s a ghost in them," answered Betsey, with 
a burst .of laughter, as if a series of haunted rooms and a se 
ries of excellent jokes meant precisely the same thing. 

" Hold your tongue directly, and go back to the kitchen," 
cried Mrs. Pentreath, indignantly. " The ignorant people 
about here," she continued, still pointedly overlooking Uncle 
Joseph, and addressing herself only to Sarah, " tell absurd 
stories about some old rooms on the unrepaired side of the 
house, which have not been inhabited for more than half a 
century past absurd stories about a ghost; and my servant 
is foolish enough to believe them." 

" No, I m not," said Betsey, retiring, under protest, to the 
lower regions. " I don t believe a word about the ghost at 
least not in the day-time." Adding that important saving 
clause in a whisper, Betsey unwillingly withdrew from the 
scene. 

Mrs. Pentreath observed, with some surprise, that the mys- ) 
terious lady in the quiet dress turned very pale at the men 
tion of the ghost story, and made no remark on it whatever. I 
While she was still wondering what this meant, Mr. Munder 
emerged into dignified prominence, and loftily addressed him 
self, not to Uncle Joseph, and not to Sarah, but to the empty 
air between them. 

" If you wish to see the house," he said, " you will have the 
goodness to follow me." 

With those words, Mr. Munder turned solemnly into the 
passage that led to the foot of the west staircase, walking 
with that peculiar, slow strut in which all serious-minded 



180 THE DEAD SECRET. 

English people indulge when they go out to take a little ex 
ercise on Sunday. The housekeeper, adapting her pace with 
feminine pliancy to the pace of the steward, walked the na 
tional Sabbatarian Polonaise by his side, as if she was out 
with him for a mouthful of fresh air between the services. 

" As I am a living sinner, this going over the house is like 
going to a funeral !" whispered Uncle Joseph to his niece. 
He drew her arm into his, and felt, as he did so, that she was 
trembling. 

" What is the matter ?" he asked, under his breath. 

" Uncle ! there is something unnatural about the readiness 
of these people to show us over the house," was the faintly 
whispered answer. " What were they talking about just 
now, out of our hearing ? Why did that woman keep her 
eyes fixed so constantly on me ?" 

Before the old man could answer, the housekeeper looked 
round, and begged, with the severest emphasis, that they 
would be good enough to follow. In less than another min 
ute they were all standing at the foot of the west staircase. 

" Aha !" cried Uncle Joseph, as easy and talkative as ever, 
even in the presence of Mr. Munder himself. " A fine big 
house, and a very good staircase." 

" We are not accustomed to hear either the house or the 
staircase spoken of in these terms, Sir," said Mr. Munder, re 
solving to nip the foreigner s familiarity in the bud. " The 
Guide to West Cornwall, which you would have done well 
to make yourself acquainted with before you came here, de 
scribes Porthgenna Tower as a Mansion, and uses the word 
Spacious in speaking of the west staircase. I regret to find, 
Sir, that you have not consulted the Guide-book to West 
Cornwall." 

"And why?" rejoined the unabashed German. "What 
do I want with a book, when I have got you for my guide ? 
Ah, dear Sir, but you are not just to yourself! Is not a 
living guide like you, who talks and walks about, better for 
me than dead leaves of print and paper? Ah, no, no ! I shall 
not hear another word I shall not hear you do any more 
injustice to yourself." Here Uncle Joseph made another fan 
tastic bow, looked up smiling into the steward s face, and 
shook his head several times with an air of friendly reproach. 

Mr. Munder felt paralyzed. He could not have been treat- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 181 

ed with more ease and indifferent familiarity if this obscure 
foreign stranger had been an English duke. He had often 
heard of the climax of audacity ; and here it was visibly em 
bodied in one small, elderly individual, who did not rise quite 
five feet from the ground he stood on ! 

While the steward was swelling with a sense of injury too 
large for utterance, the housekeeper, followed by Sarah, was 
slowly ascending the stairs. Uncle Joseph, seeing them go 
up, hastened to join his niece, and Mr. Munder, after waiting 
a little while on the mat to recover himself, followed the au 
dacious foreigner with the intention of watching his conduct 
narrowly, and chastising his insolence at the first opportunity 
with stinging words of rebuke. 

The procession up the stairs thus formed was not, however, 
closed by the steward ; it was further adorned and completed 
by Betsey, the servant-maid, who stole out of the kitchen to 
follow the strange visitors over the house, as closely as she 
could without attracting the notice of Mrs.Pentreath. Bet 
sey had her share of natural human curiosity and love of 
change. No such event as the arrival of strangers had ever 
before enlivened the dreary monotony of Porthgenna Tower 
within her experience; and she was resolved not to stay alone 
in the kitchen" while there was a chance of hearing a stray 
word of the conversation, or catching a chance glimpse of 
the proceedings among the company up stairs. 

In the mean time the housekeeper had led the way as far 
as the first-floor landing, on either side of which the principal 
rooms in the west front were situated. Sharpened by fear 
and suspicion, Sarah s eyes immediately detected the repairs 
which had been effected in the banisters and stairs of the 
second flight. 

" You have had workmen in the house ?" she said quickly 
to Mrs. Pentreath. 

" You mean on the stairs ?" returned the housekeeper. 
"Yes, we have had workmen there." 

"And nowhere else?" 

" No. But they are wanted in other places badly enough. 
Even here, on the best side of the house, half the bedrooms 
up stairs are hardly fit to sleep in. They were any thing but 
comfortable, as I have heard, even in the late Mrs. Trever- 
ton s time ; and since she died " 



182 THE DEAD SECRET. 

The housekeeper stopped with a frown and a look of sur 
prise. The lady in the quiet dress, instead of sustaining the 
reputation for good manners which had been conferred on 
her in Mrs. Frankland s letter, was guilty of the unpardona 
ble discourtesy of turning away from Mrs. Pentreath before 
she had done speaking. Determined not to allow herself to 
be impertinently silenced in that way, she coldly and dis 
tinctly repeated her last words 

" And since Mrs. Treverton died " 

She was interrupted for the second time. The strange lady, 
turning quickly round again, confronted her with a very pale 
face and a very eager look, and asked, in the most abrupt 
manner, an utterly irrelevant question : 

" Tell me about that ghost story," she said. " Do they say 
it is the ghost of a man or of a woman ?" 

"I was speaking of the late Mrs. Treverton," said the 
housekeeper, in her severest tones of reproof, " and not of 
the ghost story about the north rooms. You would have 
known that, if you had done me the favor to listen to what 
I said." 

" I beg your pardon ; I beg your pardon a thousand times 
for seeming inattentive It struck me just then or, at least, 
I wanted to know : 

"If you care to know about any thing so absurd," said 
Mrs. Pentreath, mollified by the evident sincerity of the apol 
ogy that had been offered to her, " the ghost, according to 
the story, is the ghost of a woman." 

The strange lady s face grew whiter than ever ; and she 
turned away once more to the open window on the landing. 

"How hot it is !" she said, putting her head out into the 
air. 

" Hot, with a northeast wind !" exclaimed Mrs. Pentreath, 
in amazement. 

Here Uncle Joseph came forward with a polite request to 
know when they were going to look over the rooms. For 
the last few minutes he had been asking all sorts of questions 
of Mr. Munder; and, having received no answers which 
were not of the shortest and most ungracious kind, had given 
up talking to the steward in despair. 

Mrs. Pentreath prepared to lead the way into the breakfast- 
room, library, and drawing-room. All three communicated 



THE DEAD SECRET. 183 

with each other, and each room had a second door opening 
on a long passage, the entrance to which was on the right- 
hand side of the first-floor landing. Before leading the way 
into these rooms, the housekeeper touched Sarah on the 
shoulder to intimate that it was time to be moving on. 

" As for the ghost story," resumed Mrs. Pentreath, while 
she opened the breakfast-room door, " you must apply to the 
ignorant people who believe in it, if you want to hear it all 
told. Whether the ghost is an old ghost or a new ghost, 
and why she is supposed to walk, is more than I can tell 
you." In spite of the housekeeper s affectation of indiffer 
ence toward the popular superstition, she had heard enough 
of the ghost-story to frighten her, though she would not con 
fess it. Inside the house, or outside the house, nobody 
much less willing to venture into the north rooms alone 
could in real truth have been found than Mrs. Pentreath her 
self. 

While the housekeeper was drawing up the blinds in the 
breakfast-parlor, and while Mr. Munder was opening the door 
that led out of it into the library, Uncle Joseph stole to his 
niece s side, and spoke a few words of encouragement to her 
in his quaint, kindly way. 

" Courage !" he whispered. " Keep your wits about you, 
Sarah, and catch your little opportunity whenever you can." 

"My thoughts ! My thoughts !" she answered in the same 
low key. " This house rouses them all against me. Oh, why 
did I ever venture into it again !" 

" You had better look at the view from the window now," 
said Mrs. Pentreath, after she had drawn up the blind. " It 
is very much admired." 

While affairs were in this stage of progress on the first 
floor of the house, Betsey, who had been hitherto stealing up 
by a stair at a time from the hall, and listening with all her 
ears in the intervals of the ascent, finding that no sound of 
voices now reached her, bethought herself of returning to the 
kitchen again, and of looking after the housekeeper s dinner, 
which was being kept warm by the fire. She descended to 
the lower regions, wondering what part of the house the 
strangers would want to see next, and puzzling her brains to 
find out some excuse for attaching herself to the exploring 
party. 



184 THE DEAD SECKET. 

After the view from the breakfast-room window had been 
duly contemplated, the library was next entered. In this 
room, Mrs. Pentreath, having some leisure to look about her, 
and employing that leisure in observing the conduct of the 
steward, arrived at the unpleasant conviction that Mr. Mun- 
der was by no means to be depended on to assist her in the 
important business of watching the proceedings of the two 
strangers. Doubly stimulated to assert his own dignity by 
the disrespectfully easy manner in which he had been treated 
by Uncle Joseph, the sole object of Mr. Munder s ambition 
seemed to be to divest himself as completely as possible of 
the character of guide, which the unscrupulous foreigner 
sought to confer on him. Pie sauntered heavily about the 
rooms, with the air of a casual visitor, staring out of window, 
peeping into books on tables, frowning at himself in the chim 
ney-glasses looking, in short, any where but where he ought 
to look. The housekeeper, exasperated by this affectation 
of indifference, whispered to him irritably to keep his eye on 
the foreigner, as it was quite as much as she could do to look 
after the lady in the quiet dress. 

" Very good ; very good," said Mr. Munder, with sulky 
carelessness. "And where are you going to next, ma am, 
after we have been into the drawing-room? Back again, 
through the library, into the breakfast-room ? or out at once 
into the passage ? Be good enough to settle which, as you 
seem to be in the way of settling every thing." 

" Into the passage, to be sure," answered Mrs. Pentreath, 
" to show the next three rooms beyond these." 

Mr. Munder sauntered out of the library, through the door 
way of communication, into the drawing-room, unlocked the 
door leading into the passage then, to the great disgust of 
the housekeeper, strolled to the fire-place, and looked at him 
self in the glass over it, just as attentively as he had looked 
at himself in the library mirror hardly a minute before. 

" This is the west drawing-room," said Mrs. Pentreath, 
calling to the visitors. " The carving of the stone chimney- 
piece," she added, with the mischievous intention of bringing 
them into the closest proximity to the steward, " is consid 
ered the finest thing in the whole apartment." 

Driven from the looking-glass by this manoauvre, Mr. Mun 
der provokingly sauntered to the window and looked out. 



THE DEAD SECKET. 185 

Sarah, still pale and silent but with a certain unwonted 
resolution just gathering, as it were, in the lines about her 
lips stopped thoughtfully by the chimney-piece when the 
housekeeper pointed it out to her. Uncle Joseph, looking 
all round the room in his discursive manner, spied, in the 
farthest corner of it from the door that led into the passage, 
a beautiful maple-wood table and cabinet, of a very peculiar 
pattern. His workmanlike enthusiasm was instantly aroused, 
and he darted across the room to examine the make of the 
cabinet closely. The table beneath projected a little way ( 
in front of it, and, of all the objects in the world, what should \ 
he see reposing on the flat space of the projection but a / 
magnificent musical box at least three times the size of his ; 
own ! 

" Aie ! A ie ! ! Aie ! ! !" cried Uncle Joseph, in an ascending 
scale of admiration, which ended at the very top of his voice. 
" Open him ! set him going ! let me hear what he plays !" 
lie stopped for want of words to express his impatience, and 
drummed with both hands on the lid of the musical box in ( 
a burst of uncontrollable enthusiasm. 

" Mr. Munder !" exclaimed the housekeeper, hurrying 
across the room in great indignation. "Why don t you 
look ? why don t you stop him ? He s breaking open the 
musical box. Be quiet, Sir ! How dare you touch me ?" 

" Set him going ! set him going !" reiterated Uncle Joseph, 
dropping Mrs. Pentreath s arm, which he had seized in his 
agitation. " Look here ! this by my side is a music box too ! 
Set him going ! Does he play Mozart ? He is three times 
bigger than ever I saw ! See ! see! this box of mine this 
tiny bit of box that looks nothing by the side of yours it 
was given to my own brother by the king of all music-com 
posers that ever lived, by the divine Mozart himself. Set 
the big box going, and you shall hear the little baby-box 
pipe after ! Ah, dear and good madam, if you love me 

"Sir ! ! !" exclaimed the housekeeper, reddening with virtu 
ous indignation to the very roots of her hair. 

" What do you mean, Sir, by addressing such outrageous 
language as that to a respectable female ?" inquired Mr. Mun 
der, approaching to the rescue. "Do you think we want 
your foreign noises, and your foreign morals, and your for 
eign profanity here? Yes, Sir! profanity. Any man who 



186 THE DEAD SECRET. 

calls any human individual, whether musical or otherwise, 
* divine, is a profane man. Who are you, you extremely au 
dacious person ? Are you an infidel ?" 

Before Uncle Joseph could say a word in vindication of 
his principles, before Mr. Munder could relieve himself of 
any more indignation, they were both startled into moment 
ary silence by an exclamation of alarm from the house 
keeper. 

"Where is she?" cried Mrs. Pentreath, standing in the 
middle of the drawing-room, and looking with bewildered 
eyes all around her. 

The lady in the quiet dress had vanished. 

She was not in the library, not in the breakfast-room, not 
in the passage outside. After searching in those three places, 
the housekeeper came back to Mr. Munder with a look of 
downright terror in her face, and stood staring at him for a 
moment perfectly helpless and perfectly silent. As soon as 
she recovered herself she turned fiercely on Uncle Joseph. 

" Where is she? I insist on knowing what has become of 
her! You cunning, wicked, impudent old man! where is 
she ?" cried Mrs. Pentreath, with no color in her cheeks and 
no mercy in her eyes. 

"I suppose she is looking about the house by herself," 
said Uncle Joseph. "We shall find her surely as we take 
our walks through the other rooms." Simple as he was, the 
old man had, nevertheless, acuteness enough to perceive that 
he had accidentally rendered the very service to his niece of 
which she stood in need. If he had been the most artful of 
mankind, he could have devised no better means of diverting 
Mrs. Pentreath s attention from Sarah to himself than the 
very means which he had just used in perfect innocence, at 
the very moment when his thoughts were farthest away 
from the real object with which he and his niece had entered 
the house. " So ! so !" thought Uncle Joseph to himself, 
" while these two angry people were scolding me for noth 
ing, Sarah has slipped away to the room where the letter is. 
Good ! I have only to wait till she comes back, and to let 
the two angry people go on scolding me as long as they 
please." 

" What are we to do ? Mr. Munder ! what on earth are 
we to do ?" asked the housekeeper. " We can t waste the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 187 

precious minutes staring at each other here. This woman 
must be found. Stop ! she asked questions about the stairs 
she looked up at the second floor the moment we got on 
the landing. Mr. Munder ! wait here, and don t let that for 
eigner out of your sight for a moment. Wait here while I 
run up and look into the second-floor passage. All the bed 
room doors are locked I defy her to hide herself if she has 
gone up there." With those words, the housekeeper ran out 
of the drawing-room, and breathlessly ascended the second 
flight of stairs. 

While Mrs. Pentreath was searching on the west side of 
the house, Sarah was hurrying, at the top of her speed, along 
the lonely passages that led to the north rooms. 

Terrified into decisive action by the desperate nature of 
the situation, she had slipped out of the drawing-room into 
the passage the instant she saw Mrs. Pentreath s back turned 
on her. Without stopping to think, without attempting to 
compose herself, she ran down the stairs of the first floor, 
and made straight for the housekeeper s room. She had no 
excuses ready, if she had found any body there, or if she had 
met any body on the way. She had formed no plan where 
to seek for them next, if the keys of the north rooms were 
not hanging in the place where she still expected to find 
them. Her mind was lost in confusion, her temples throb 
bed as if they would burst with the heat at her brain. The 
one blind, wild, headlong purpose of getting into the Myrtle 
Room drove her on, gave unnatural swiftness to her trem 
bling feet, unnatural strength to her shaking hands, unnatu 
ral courage to her sinking heart. 

She ran into the housekeeper s room, without even the or 
dinary caution of waiting for a moment to listen outside the 
door. No one was there. One glance at the well-remem 
bered nail in the wall showed her the keys still hanging to 
it in a bunch, as they had hung in the long-past time. She 
had them in her possession in a moment ; and was away 
again, along the solitary passages that led to the north 
rooms, threading their turnings and windings as if she had 
left them but the day before ; never pausing to listen or to 
look behind her, never slackening her speed till she was at 
the top of the back staircase, and had her hand on the locked 
door that led into the north hall. 



188 THE DEAD SECRET. 

As she turned over the bunch to find the first key that 
was required, she discovered what her hurry had hitherto 
prevented her from noticing the numbered labels which 
the builder had methodically attached to all the keys when 
he had been sent to Porthgenna by Mr. Frankland to survey 
the house. At the first sight of them, her searching hand" 
paused in their work instantaneously, and she shivered all 
over, as if a sudden chill had struck her. 

If she had been less violently agitated, the discovery of 
the new labels and the suspicious to which the sight of them 
instantly gave rise would, in all probability, have checked 
her further progress. But the confusion of her mind was 
now too great to allow her to piece together even the veri 
est fragments of thoughts. Vaguely conscious of a new ter 
ror, of a sharpened distrust that doubled and trebled the 
headlong impatience which had driven her on thus far, she 
desperately resumed her search through the bunch of keys. 

One of them had no label ; it was larger than the rest it 
was the key that fitted the door of communication before 
which she stood. She turned it in the rusty lock with a 
strength which, at any other time, she would have been ut 
terly incapable of exerting ; she opened the door with a blow 
of her hand, which burst it away at one stroke from the 
jambs to which it stuck. Panting for breath, she flew across 
the forsaken north hall, without stopping for one second to 
push the door to behind her. The creeping creatures, the 
noisome house - reptiles that possessed the place, crawled 
away, shadow-like, on either side of her toward the Avails. 
She never noticed them, never turned away for them. Across 
the hall, and up the stairs at the end of it, she ran, till she 
gained the open "landing at the top and there she suddenly 
checked herself in front of the first door. 

The first door of the long range of rooms that opened on 
the landing ; the door that fronted the topmost of the flight 
of stairs. She stopped; she looked at it it was not the 
door she had come to open ; and yet she could not tear her 
self away from it. Scrawled on the panel in white chalk 
was the figure " I." And when she looked down at the 
bunch of keys in her hands, there was the figure " I." on a 
label, answering to it. 

She tried to think, to follow out any one of all the throng- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 189 

ing suspicions that beset her to the conclusion at which it 
might point. The effort was useless ; her mind was gone ; 
her bodily senses of seeing and hearing senses which had 
now become painfully and incomprehensibly sharpened 
seemed to be the sole relics of intelligence that she had left 
to guide her. She put her hand over her eyes, and waited a 
little so, and then went on slowly along the landing, looking 
at the doors. 

No. "II.," No. "III.," No. "IV.," traced on the panels in 
the same white chalk, and answering to the numbered labels 
on the keys, the figures on which were written in ink. No. 
"IV." the middle room of the first floor range of eight. She 
stopped there again, trembling from head to foot. It was 
the door of the Myrtle Room. 

Did the chalked numbers stop there? She looked on 
down the landing. No. The four doors remaining were 
regularly numbered on to " VIII." 

She came back again to the door of the Myrtle Room, 
sought out the key labeled with the figure "IV." hes 
itated and looked back distrustfully over the deserted 
hall. 

The canvases of the old family pictures, which she had 
seen bulging out of their frames in the past time when she 
hid the letter, had, for the most part, rotted away from them 
now, and lay in great black ragged strips on the floor of 
the hall. Islands and continents of damp spread like the 
map of some strange region over the lofty vaulted ceiling. 
Cobwebs, heavy with dust, hung down in festoons from 
broken cornices. Dirt stains lay on the stone pavement, like 
gross reflections of the damp stains on the ceiling. The 
broad flight of stairs leading up to the open landing before 
the rooms of the first floor had sunk down bodily toward 
one side. The banisters which protected the outer edge of 
the landing were broken away into ragged gaps. The light 
of day was stained, the air of heaven was stilled, the sounds 
of earth were silenced in the north hall. 

Silenced ? Were all sounds silenced ? Or was there some 
thing stirring that just touched the sense of hearing, that 
just deepened the dismal stillness, and no more ? 

Sarah listened, keeping her face still set toward the hall 
listened, and heard a faint sound behind her. Was it out- 



190 THE DEAD SECRET. 

side the door on which her back was turned ? Or was it in 
side in the Myrtle Room ? 

Inside. With the first conviction of that, all thought, all 
sensation left her. She forgot the suspicious numbering of 
the doors; she became insensible to the lapse of time, uncon 
scious of the risk of discovery. All exercise of her other fac 
ulties was now merged in the exercise of the one faculty of 
listening. 

It was a still, faint, stealthily rustling sound ; and it moved 
to and fro at intervals, to and fro softly, now at one end, now 
at the other of the Myrtle Room. There were moments 
when it grew suddenly distinct other moments when it 
died away in gradations too light to follow. Sometimes it 
seemed to sweep over the floor at a bound sometimes it 
crept with slow, continuous rustlings that just wavered on 
the verge of absolute silence. 

Her feet still rooted to the spot on which she stood, Sarah 
turned her head slowly, inch by inch, toward the door of the 
Myrtle Room. A moment before, while she was as yet un 
conscious of the faint sound moving to and fro within it, 
she had been drawing her breath heavily and quickly. She 
might have been dead now, her bosom was so still, her breath 
ing so noiseless. The same mysterious change came over 
her face which had altered it when the darkness began to 
gather in the little parlor at Truro. The same fearful look 
of inquiry which she had then fixed on the vacant corner of 
the room was in her eyes now, as they slowly turned on the 
door. 

"Mistress!" she whispered. "Am I too late? Are you 
there before me?" 

The stealthily rustling sound inside paused renewed itself 
died away again faintly ; away at the lower end of the 
room. 

Her eyes still remained fixed on the Myrtle Room, strained, 
and opened wider and wider opened as if they would look 
through the very door itself opened as if they were watch 
ing for the opaque wood to turn transparent, and show what 
was behind it. 

" Over the lonesome floor, over the lonesome floor how 
light it moves !" she whispered again. "Mistress ! does the 
black dress I made for you rustle no louder than that ?" 



THE DEAD SECKET. 191 

The sound stopped again then suddenly advanced at one j 
stealthy sweep close to the inside of the door. 

If she could have moved at that moment ; if she could have ; 
looked down to the line of open space between the bottom of 
the door and the flooring below, when the faintly rustling ; 
sound came nearest to her, she might have seen the insignin - , 
cant cause that produced it lying self-betrayed under the 
door, partly outside, partly inside, in the shape of a fragment 
of faded red paper from the wall of the Myrtle Koom. Time 
and damp had loosened the paper all round the apartment. 
Two or three yards of it had been torn off by the builder 
while he was examining the walls sometimes in large pieces, 
sometimes in small pieces, just as it happened to come away 
and had been thrown down by him on the bare, boarded 
floor, to become the sport of the wind, whenever it happened 
to blow through the broken panes of glass in the window. \ 
If she had only moved ! If she had only looked down for 
one little second of time ! 

She was past moving and past looking : the paroxysm of 
superstitious horror that possessed her held her still in every 1 
limb and every feature. She never started, she uttered no 
cry, when the rustling noise came nearest. The one outward 
sign which showed how the terror of its approach shook her 
to the very soul expressed itself only in the changed action 
of her right hand, in which she still held the keys. At the 
instant when the wind wafted the fragment of paper closest 
to the door, her fingers lost their power of contraction, and 
became as nerveless and helpless as if she had fainted. The 
heavy bunch of keys slipped from her suddenly loosened 
grasp, dropped at her side on the outer edge of the landing, 
rolled off through a gap in the broken banister, and fell on 
the stone pavement below, with a crash which made the \ 
sleeping echoes shriek again, as if they were sentient beings j 
writhing under the torture of sound ! 

* The crash of the falling keys, ringing and ringing again 
through the stillness, woke her, as it were, to instant con 
sciousness of present events and present perils. She started, 
staggered backward, and raised both her hands wildly to her 
head paused so for a few seconds then made for the top 
of the stairs with the purpose of descending into the hall to 
recover the keys. 

12 



192 THE DEAD SECEET. 

Before she had advanced three paces the shrill sound of a 
woman s scream came from the door of communication at 
the opposite end of the hall. The scream was twice repeated 
at a greater distance off, and was followed by a confused 
noise of rapidly advancing voices and footsteps. 

She staggered desperately a few paces farther, and reached 
the first of the row of doors that opened on the landing. 
There nature sank exhausted: her knees gave way under 
her her breath, her sight, her hearing all seemed to fail her 
together at the same instant and she dropped down sense 
less on the floor at the head of the stairs. 



CHAPTER IV. 

ME. MUNDEE OX THE SEAT OF JUDGMENT. 

THE murmuring voices and the hurrying footsteps came 
nearer and nearer, then stopped altogether. After an inter 
val of silence, one voice called out loudly, " Sarah ! Sarah ! 
where are you ?" and the next instant Uncle Joseph appeared 
alone in the door-way that led into the north hall, looking 
eagerly all round him. 

At first the prostrate figure on the landing at the head of 
the stairs escaped his view. But the second time he looked 
in that direction the dark dress, and the arm that lay just 
over the edge of the top stair, caught his eye. With a loud 
cry of terror and recognition, he flew across the hall and as 
cended the stairs. Just as he was kneeling by Sarah s side, 
and raising her head on his arm, the steward, the housekeeper, 
and the maid, all three crowded together after him into the 
.door- way. 

" Water !" shouted the old man, gesticulating at them 
wildly with his disengaged hand. " She is here she has 
fallen down she is in a faint ! Water ! water !" 

Mr. Munder looked at Mrs. Pentreath, Mrs. Pentreath looked 
at Betsey, Betsey looked at the ground. All three stood 
stock-still; all three seemed equally incapable of walking 
across the hall. If the science of physiognomy be not an en 
tire delusion, the cause of this amazing unanimity was legibly 
written in their faces ; in other words, they all three looked 
equally afraid of the ghost. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 193 

" Water, I say ! Water !" reiterated Uncle Joseph, shaking 
his fist at them. "She is in a faint! Are you three at the 
door there, and not one heart of mercy among you ? Water ! 
water ! water ! Must I scream myself into fits before I can 
make you hear ?" 

" I ll get the water, ma am," said Betsey, " if you or Mr. 
Munder will please to take it from here to the top of the 
stairs." 

She ran to the kitchen, and came back with a glass of water, 
which she offered, with a respectful courtesy, first to the 
housekeeper, and then to the steward. 

"How dare you ask us to carry things for you?" said 
Mrs. Pentreath, backing out of the door-way. 

" Yes ! how dare you ask us ?" added Mr. Munder, backing 
after Mrs. Pentreath. 

" Water !" shouted the old man for the third time. He 
drew his niece backward a little, so that she could be sup 
ported against the wall behind her. " Water ! or I trample 
down this dungeon of a place about your ears !" he shouted, 
stamping with impatience and rage. 

"If you please, Sir, are you sure it s really the lady who is 
up there ?" asked Betsey, advancing a few paces tremulously 
with the glass of water. 

"Am I sure?" exclaimed Uncle Joseph, descending the 
stairs to meet her. " What fool s question is this ? Who 
should it be ?" 

" The ghost, Sir," said Betsey, advancing more and more 
slowly. " The ghost of the north rooms." 

Uncle Joseph met her a few yards in advance of the foot 
of the stairs, took the glass of water from her with a gesture 
of contempt, and hastened back to his niece. As Betsey 
turned to effect her retreat, the bunch of keys lying on the 
pavement below the landing caught her eye. After a little 
hesitation she mustered courage enough to pick them up, 
and then ran with them out of the hall as fast as her feet 
could carry her. 

Meanwhile Uncle Joseph was moistening his niece s lips 
with the water, and sprinkling it over her forehead. After a 
while her breath began to come and go slowly, in faint sighs, 
the muscles of her face moved a little, and she feebly opened 
her eyes. They fixed affrightedly on the old man, without 



194 THE DEAD SECKET. 

any expression of recognition. He made her drink a little 
water, and spoke to her gently, and so brought her back at 
last to herself. Her first words were, "Don t leave me." 
Her first action, when she was able to move, was the action 
of crouching closer to him. 

" No fear, my child," he said, soothingly ; " I will keep by 
you. Tell me, Sarah, what has made you faint ? What has 
frightened you so?" 

" Oh, don t ask me ! For God s sake, don t ask me !" 

" There, there ! I shall say nothing, then. Another mouth 
ful of water ? A little mouthful more ?" 

"Help me up, uncle; help me to try if I can stand." 

"Not yet not quite yet; patience for a little longer." 

" Oh, help me ! help me ! I w r ant to get away from the 
sight of those doors. If I can only go as far as the bottom 
of the stairs I shall be better." 

" So, so," said Uncle Joseph, assisting her to rise. " Wait 
now, and feel your feet on the ground. Lean on me, lean 
hard, lean heavy. Though I am only a light and a little man, 
I am solid as a rock. Have you been into the room?" he 
added, in a whisper. "Have you got the letter?" 

She sighed bitterly, and laid her head on his shoulder with 
a weary despair. 

" Why, Sarah ! Sarah !" he exclaimed. " Have you been 
all this time away, and not got into the room yet ?" 

She raised her head as suddenly as she had laid it down, 
shuddered, and tried feebly to draw him toward the stairs. 
" I shall never see the Myrtle Room again never, never, nev 
er more !" she said. " Let us go ; I can walk ; I am strong 
now. Uncle Joseph, if you love me, take me away from this 
house ; away any where, so long as we are in the free air and 
the daylight again ; any where, so long as we are out of sight 
of Porthgenna Tower." 

Elevating his eyebrows in astonishment, but considerately 
refraining from asking any more questions, Uncle Joseph as 
sisted his niece to descend the stairs. She was still so weak 
that she was obliged to pause on gaining the bottom of them 
to recover her strength. Seeing this, and feeling, as he led 
her afterward across the hall, that she leaned more and more 
heavily on his arm at every fresh step, the old man, on ar 
riving within speaking distance of Mr. Munder and Mrs. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 195 

Pentreath, asked the housekeeper if she possessed any restor 
ative drops which she would allow him to administer to his 
niece. 

Mrs. Pentreath s reply in the affirmative, though not very 
graciously spoken, was accompanied by an alacrity of action 
which showed that she was heartily rejoiced to take the first 
fair excuse for returning to the inhabited quarter of the house. 
Muttering something about showing the way to the place 
where the medicine-chest was kept, she immediately retraced 
her steps along the passage to her own room ; while Uncle 
Joseph, disregarding all Sarah s whispered assurances that 
she was well enough to depart without another moment of 
delay, followed her silently, leading his niece. 

Mr. Munder, shaking his head, and looking woefully discon 
certed, waited behind to lock the door of communication. 
When he had done this, and had given the keys to Betsey to 
carry back to their appointed place, he, in his turn, retired 
from the scene at a pace indecorously approaching to some 
thing like a run. On getting well away from the north hall, 
however, he regained his self-possession wonderfully. He ab 
ruptly slackened his pace, collected his scattered wits, and 
reflected a little, apparently with perfect satisfaction to him 
self; for when he entered the housekeeper s room he had quite 
recovered his usual complacent solemnity of look and manner. 
Like the vast majority of densely stupid men, he felt intense 
pleasure in hearing himself talk, and he now discerned such 
an opportunity of indulging in that luxury, after the events 
that had just happened in the house, as he seldom enjoyed. 
There is only one kind of speaker who is quite certain never 
to break down under any stress of circumstances the man 
whose capability of talking does not include any dangerous 
underlying capacity for knowing what he means. Among 
this favored order of natural orators, Mr. Munder occupied a 
prominent rank and he was now vindictively resolved to 
exercise his abilities on the two strangers, under pretense of 
asking for an explanation of their conduct, before be could 
suffer them to quit the house. 

On entering the room, he found Uncle Joseph seated with 
his niece at the lower end of it, engaged in dropping some 
sal volatile into a glass of water. At the upper end stood 
the housekeeper with an open medicine-chest on the table 



196 THE DEAD SECKET. 

before her. To this part of the room Mr. Munder slowly ad 
vanced, with a portentous countenance ; drew an arm-chair 
up to the table ; sat himself down in it, with extreme deliber 
ation and care in the matter of settling his coat-tails ; and 
immediately became, to all outward appearance, the model 
of a Lord Chief Justice in plain clothes. 

Mrs. Pentreath, conscious from these preparations that some 
thing extraordinary was about to happen, seated herself a little 
behind the steward. Betsey restored the keys to their place 
on the nail in the wall, and was about to retire modestly to her 
proper kitchen sphere, when she was stopped by Mr. Munder. 

" Wait, if you please," said the steward ; " I shall have oc 
casion to call on you presently, young woman, to make a 
plain statement." 

Obedient Betsey waited near the door, terrified by the idea 
that she must have done something wrong, and that the stew 
ard was armed with inscrutable legal power to try, sentence, 
and punish her for the oifense on the spot. 

"Now, Sir," said Mr. Munder, addressing Uncle Joseph as 
if he was the Speaker of the House of Commons, " if you have 
done with that sal volatile, and if the person by your side has 
sufficiently recovered her senses to listen, I should wish to 
say a word or two to both of you." 

At this exordium, Sarah tried affrightedly to rise from her 
chair ; but her uncle caught her by the hand, and pressed her 
back in it. 

" Wait and rest," he whispered. " I shall take all the scold 
ing on my own shoulder, and do all the talking with my own 
tongue. As soon as you are fit to walk again, I promise you 
this : whether the big man has said his word or two, or has 
not said it, we will quietly get up and go our ways out of 
the house." 

" Up to the present moment," said Mr. Munder, " I have 
refrained from expressing an opinion. The time has now 
come when, holding a position of trust as I do in this estab 
lishment, and being accountable, and indeed responsible, as 
I am, for what takes place in it, and feeling, as I must, that 
things can not be allowed or even permitted to rest as they 
are it is my duty to say that I think your conduct is very 
extraordinary." Directing this forcible conclusion to his 
sentence straight at Sarah, Mr. Munder leaned back in his 



THE DEAD SECRET. 197 

chair, quite full of words, and quite empty of meaning, to 
collect himself comfortably for his next effort. 

"My only desire," he resumed, with a plaintive impartial 
ity, "is to act fairly by all parties. I don t wish to frighten 
any body, or to startle any body, or even to terrify any body. 
I wish to unravel, or, if you please, to make out, what I may 
term, with perfect propriety events. And when I have 
done that, I should wish to put it to you, ma am, and to you, 
Sir, whether I say, I should wish to put it to you both, 
calmly, and impartially, and politely, and plainly, and smooth 
ly and when I say smoothly, I mean quietly whether you 
are not both of you bound to explain yourselves." 

Mr. Munder paused, to let that last irresistible appeal work 
its way to the consciences of the persons whom he addressed. 
The housekeeper took advantage of the silence to cough, as 
congregations cough just before the sermon, apparently on 
the principle of getting rid of bodily infirmities beforehand, 
in order to give the mind free play for undisturbed intellect 
ual enjoyment. Betsey, following Mrs. Pentreath s lead, in 
dulged in a cough on her own account of the faint, distrust 
ful sort. Uncle Joseph sat perfectly easy and undismayed, 
still holding his niece s hand in his, and giving it a little 
squeeze, from time to time, when the steward s oratory be 
came particularly involved and impressive. Sarah never 
moved, never looked up, never lost the expression of terrified 
restraint which had taken possession of her face from the first 
moment when she entered the housekeeper s room. 

" Now what are the facts, and circumstances, and events ?" 
proceeded Mr. Munder, leaning back in his chair, in calm en 
joyment of the sound of his own voice. "You, ma am, and 
you, Sir, ring at the bell of the door of this Mansion " (here 
he looked hard at Uncle Joseph, as much as to say, " I don t 
give up that point about the house being a Mansion, you see, 
even on the judgment-seat") " you are let in, or, rather, ad 
mitted. You, Sir, assert that you wish to inspect the Man 
sion (you say c see the house, but, being a foreigner, we are 
not surprised at your making a little mistake of that sort) ; 
you, ma am, coincide, and even agree, in that request. What 
follows? You are shown over the Mansion. It is not usual 
to show strangers over it, but we happen to have certain 



198 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Sarah started. " What reasons ?" she asked, looking up 
quickly. 

Uncle Joseph felt her hand turn cold, and tremble in his. 
" Hush ! hush !" he said, " leave the talking to me." 

At the same moment Mrs. Pentreath pulled Mr. Munder 
warily by the coat-tail, and whispered to him to be careful. 
"Mrs. Frankland s letter," she said in his ear, "tells us par 
ticularly not to let it be suspected that we are acting under 
orders." 

"Don t you fancy, Mrs. Pentreath, that I forget what I 
ought to remember," rejoined Mr. Munder who had forgot 
ten, nevertheless. " And don t you imagine that I was going 
to commit myself" (the very thing which he had just been 
on the point of doing). " Leave this business in my hands, 
if you will be so good. What reasons did you say, ma am?" 
he added aloud, addressing himself to Sarah. " Never you 
mind about reasons ; w r e have not got to do with them now ; 
we have got to do with facts, and circumstances, and events. 
I was observing, or remarking, that you, Sir, and you, ma am, 
were shown over this Mansion. You were conducted, and 
indeed led, up the west staircase the Spacious west staircase, 
Sir! You were shown with politeness, and even with court 
esy, through the breakfast-room, the library, and the draw 
ing-room. In that drawing-room, you, Sir, indulge in outra 
geous, and, I will add, in violent language. In that drawing- 
room, you, ma am, disappear, or, rather, go altogether out of 
sight. Such conduct as this, so highly unparalleled, so entire 
ly unprecedented, and so very unusual, causes Mrs. Pentreath 
and myself to feel " Here Mr. Munder stopped, at a loss for 
a word for the first time. 

" Astonished," suggested Mrs. Pentreath after a long in 
terval of silence. 

" No, ma am !" retorted Mr. Munder. " Nothing of the 
sort. We were not at all astonished; we were surprised. 
And what followed and succeeded that ? What did you and 
I hear, Sir, on the first floor?" (looking sternly at Uncle Jo 
seph). " And what did you hear, Mrs. Pentreath, w 7 hile you 
were searching for the missing and absent party on the sec 
ond floor? What?" 

Thus personally appealed to, the housekeeper answered 
briefly u A scream." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 199 

"No! no! no!" said Mr. Munder, fretfully tapping his 
hand on the table. " A screech, Mrs. Pentreath a screech. 
And what is the meaning, purport, and upshot of that screech? 

Young woman !" (here Mr. Munder turned suddenly on 

Betsey) " we have now traced these extraordinary facts and 
circumstances as far as you. Have the goodness to step for 
ward, and tell us, in the presence of these two parties, how 
you came to utter, or give, what Mrs. Pentreath calls a scream, 
but what I call a screech. A plain statement will do, my 
good girl quite a plain statement, if you please. And, 
young woman, one word more speak up. You understand 
me ? Speak up !" 

Covered with confusion by the public and solemn nature 
of this appeal, Betsey, on starting with her statement, uncon 
sciously followed the oratorical example of no less a person 
than Mr. Munder himself; that is to say, she spoke on the 
principle of drowning the smallest possible infusion of ideas 
in the largest possible dilution of words. Extricated from 
the mesh of verbal entanglement in which she contrived to 
involve it, her statement may be not unfairly represented as 
simply consisting of the following facts: 

First, Betsey had to relate that she happened to be just 
taking the lid off a saucepan, on the kitchen fire, when she 
heard, in the neighborhood of the housekeeper s room, a sound 
of hurried footsteps (vernacularly termed by the witness a 
" scurrying of somebody s feet "). Secondly, Betsey, on leav 
ing the kitchen to ascertain what the sound meant, heard the 
footsteps retreating rapidly along the passage which led to 
the north side of the house, and, stimulated by curiosity, fol 
lowed the sound of them for a certain distance. Thirdly, at 
a sharp turn in the passage, Betsey stopped short, despairing 
of overtaking the person whose footsteps she heard, and feel 
ing also a sense of dread (termed by the witness, " creeping 
of the flesh") at the idea of venturing alone, even in broad 
daylight, into the ghostly quarter of the house. Fourthly, 
while still hesitating at the turn in the passage, Betsey heard 
" the lock of a door go," and, stimulated afresh by curiosity, 
advanced a few steps farther then stopped again, debating 
within herself the difficult and dreadful question, whether it 
is the usual custom of ghosts, when passing from one place to 
another, to unlock any closed door which may happen to be 



200 THE DEAD SECRET. 

in their way, or to save trouble by simply passing through 
it. Fifthly, after long deliberation, and many false starts 
forward toward the north hall and backward toward the 
kitchen Betsey decided that it was the immemorial custom 
of all ghosts to pass through doors, and not unlock them. 
Sixthly, fortified by this conviction, Betsey went on boldly 
close to the door, when she suddenly heard a loud report, as 
of some heavy body falling (graphically termed by the wit 
ness a " banging scrash "). Seventhly, the noise frightened 
Betsey out of her wits, brought her heart up into her mouth, 
and took away her breath. Eighthly, and lastly, on recov 
ering breath enough to scream (or screech), Betsey did, with 
might and main, scream (or screech), running back toward 
the kitchen as fast as her legs would carry her, with all her 
hair " standing up on end," and all her flesh " in a crawl " 
from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet. 

" Just so ! just so !" said Mr. Munder, when the statement 
came to a close as if the sight of a young woman with all 
her hair standing on end and all her flesh in a crawl were an 
ordinary result of his experience of female humanity " Ju^t 
so ! You may stand back, my good girl you may stand 
back. There is nothing to smile at, Sir," he continued, 
sternly addressing^ Uncle Joseph, who had been excessively 
amused by Betsey s manner of delivering her evidence. 
"You would be doing better to carry, or rather transport, 
your mind back to what followed and succeeded the young 
woman s screech. What did we all do, Sir ? We rushed to 
the spot, and we ran to the place. And what did we all see, 
Sir? We saw you, ma am, lying horizontally prostrate, on 
the top of the landing of the first of the flight of the north 
stairs ; and we saw those keys, now hanging up yonder, ab 
stracted and purloined, and, as it were, snatched from their 
place in this room, and lying horizontally prostrate likewise 
on the floor of the hall. There are the facts, the circumstan 
ces, and the events, laid, or rather placed, before you. What 
have you got to say to them ? I call upon you both solemn 
ly, and, I will add, seriously ! In my own name, in the name 
of Mrs. Pentreath, in the name of our employers, in the name 
of decency, in the name of wonder what do you mean by 
it?" 

With that conclusion, Mr. Munder struck his fist on the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 201 

table, and waited, with a glare of merciless expectation, for 
any thing in the shape of an answer, an explanation, or a de 
fense which the culprits at the bottom of the room might be 
disposed to offer. 

" Tell him any thing," whispered Sarah to the old man. 
" Any thing to keep him quiet; any thing to make him let us 
go ! After what I have suffered, these people will drive me 
mad !" 

Never very quick at inventing an excuse, and perfectly ig 
norant besides of what had really happened to his niece while 
she was alone in the north hall, Uncle Joseph, with the best 
will in the world to prove himself equal to the emergency, 
felt considerable difficulty in deciding what he should say or 
do. Determined, however, at all hazards, to spare Sarah any 
useless suffering, and to. remove her from the house as speed 
ily as possible, he rose to take the responsibility of speaking 
on himself, looking hard, before he opened his lips, at Mr. 
Munder, who immediately leaned forward on the table with 
his hand to his ear. Uncle Joseph acknowledged this polite 
act of attention with one of his fantastic bows; and then re 
plied to the whole of the steward s long harangue in these 
six unanswerable words : 

" I wish you good-day, Sir !" 

" How dare you wish me any thing of the sort !" cried Mr. 
Munder, jumping out of his chair in violent indignation. 
"How dare you trifle with a serious subject and a serious 
question in that way ? Wish me good-day, indeed ! Do 
you suppose I am going to let you out of this house without 
hearing some explanation of the abstracting and purloining 
and snatching of the keys of the north rooms?" 

"Ah ! it is that you want to know?" said Uncle Joseph, 
stimulated to plunge headlong into an excuse by the increas 
ing agitation and terror of his niece. " See, now ! I shall ex 
plain. What was it, dear and good Sir, that we said when 
we were first let in ? This c We have come to see the 
house. Now there is a north side to the house, and a west 
side to the house. Good ! That is two sides ; and I and my 
niece are two people; and we divide ourselves in two, to 
see the two sides. I am the half that goes west, with you 
and the dear and good lady behind there. My niece here is 
the other half that goes north, all by herself, and drops the 



202 THE DEAD SECKET. 

keys, and falls into a faint, because in that old part of the 
house it is what you call musty-fusty, and there is smells of 
tombs and spiders, and that is all the explanation, and quite 
enough, too. I wish you good-day, Sir." 

" Damme ! if ever I met with the like of you before !" 
roared Mr. Munder, entirely forgetting his dignity, his re 
spectability, and his long words in the exasperation of the 
moment. u You are going to have it all your own way, are 
you, Mr. Foreigner ? You will walk out of this place when 
you please, will you, Mr. Foreigner? We will see what the 
justice of the peace for this district has to say to that," cried 
Mr. Munder, recovering his solemn manner and his lofty 
phraseology. " Property in this house is confided to my 
care ; and unless I hear some satisfactory explanation of the 
purloining of those keys hanging up there, Sir, on that wall, 
Sir, before your eyes, Sir I shall consider it my duty to de 
tain you, and the person with you, until I can get legal ad 
vice, and lawful advice, and magisterial advice. Do you 
hear that, Sir?" 

Uncle Joseph s ruddy cheeks suddenly deepened in color, 
and his face assumed an expression which made the house 
keeper rather uneasy, and which had an irresistibly cooling 
effect on the heat of Mr. Munder s anger. 

" You will keep us here? You?" said the old man, speak 
ing very quietly, and looking very steadily at the steward. 
" Now, see. I take this lady (courage, my child, courage ! 
there is nothing to tremble for) I take this lady with me ; 
I throw that door open, so ! I stand and wait before it ; and 
I say to you, * Shut that door against us, if you dare. " 

At this defiance, Mr. Munder advanced a few steps, and 
then stopped. If Uncle John s steady look at him had wav 
ered for an instant, he would have closed the door. 

" I say again," repeated the old man, " shut it against us, 
if you dare. The laws and customs of your country, Sir, 
have made me an Englishman. If you can talk into one ear 
of a magistrate, I can talk into the other. If he must listen 
to you, a citizen of this country, he must listen to me, a 
citizen of this country also. Say the word, if you please. 
Do you accuse ? or do you threaten ? or do you shut the 
door?" 

Before Mr. Munder could reply to any one of these three 



THE DEAD SECRET. 203 

direct questions, the housekeeper begged him to return to 
his chair and to speak to her. As he resumed his place, she 
whispered to him, in warning tones, "Remember Mrs. Frank- 
land s letter !" 

At the same moment, Uncle Joseph, considering that he 
had waited long enough, took a step forward to the door. 
He was prevented from advancing any farther by his niece, 
who caught him suddenly by the arm, and said in his ear, 
" Look ! they are whispering about us again !" 

" Well !" said Mr. Munder, replying to the housekeeper. 
" I do remember Mrs. Frankland s letter, ma am ; and what 
then ?" 

" Hush ! not so loud," whispered Mrs. Pentreath. " I don t 
presume, Mr. Munder, to differ in opinion with you ; but I 
want to ask one or two questions. Do you think we have 
any charge that a magistrate would listen to, to bring against 
these people ?" 

Mr. Munder looked puzzled, and seemed, for once in a way, 
to be at a loss for an answer. 

" Does what you remember of Mrs. Frankland s letter," 
pursued the housekeeper, " incline you to think that she 
would be pleased at a public exposure of what has happened 
in the house ? She tells us to take private notice of that 
woman s conduct, and to follow her unperceived when she 
goes away. I don t venture on the liberty of advising you, 
Mr. Munder, but, as far as regards myself, I wash my hands 
of all responsibility, if we do any thing but follow Mrs. 
Frankland s instructions (as she herself tells us) to the letter." 

Mr. Munder hesitated. Uncle Joseph, who had paused for 
a minute when Sarah directed his attention to the whisper 
ing at the upper end of the room, now drew her on slowly 
with him to the door. " Betzee, my dear," he said, address 
ing the maid, with perfect coolness and composure, " we are 
strangers here ; will you be so kind to us as to show the way 
out?" 

Betsey looked at the housekeeper, who motioned to her to 
appeal for orders to the steward. Mr. Munder was sorely 
tempted, for the sake of his own importance, to insist on in 
stantly carrying out the violent measures to which he had 
threatened to have recourse; but Mrs. Pentreath s objections 
made him pause in spite of himself. 



204 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Betzee, my dear," repeated Uncle Joseph, " has all this 
talking been too much for your ears ? has it made you deaf?" 

" Wait !" cried Mr. Munder, impatiently. "I insist on your 
waiting, Sir !" 

" You insist ? Well, well, because you are an uncivil man 
is no reason why I should be an uncivil man too. We will 
wait a little, Sir, if you have any thing more to say." Making 
that concession to the claims of politeness, Uncle Joseph 
walked gently backward and forward with his niece in the 
passage outside the door. " Sarah, my child, I have frighten 
ed the man of the big words," he whispered. " Try not to 
tremble so much ; we shall soon be out in the fresh air 
again." 

In the mean time, Mr. Munder continued his whispered 
conversation with the housekeeper, making a desperate effort, 
in the midst of his perplexities, to maintain his customary air 
of patronage and his customary assumption of superiority. 
" There is a great deal of truth, ma am," he softly began " a 
great deal of truth, certainly, in what you say. But you are 
talking of the woman, while I am talking of the man. Do 
you mean to tell me that I am to let him go, after what has 
happened, without at least insisting on his giving me his 
name and address ?" 

" Do you put trust enough in the foreigner to believe that 
he would give you his right name and address if you asked 
him?" inquired Mrs. Pentreath. "With submission to your 
better judgment, I must confess that I don t. But supposing 
you were to detain him and charge him before the magistrate 
and how you are to do that, the magistrate s house being, 
I suppose, about a couple of hours walk from here, is more 
than I can tell you must surely risk offending Mrs. Frank- 
land by detaining the woman and charging the woman as 
well ; for after all, Mr. Munder, though I believe the foreigner 
to be capable of any thing, it was the woman that took the 
keys, was it not ?" 

" Quite so ! quite so !" said Mr. Munder, whose sleepy eyes 
were now opened to this plain and straightforward view of 
the case for the first time. " I was, oddly enough, putting 
that point to myself, Mrs. Pentreath, just before you hap 
pened to speak of it. Just so ! just so !" 

" I can t help thinking," continued the housekeeper, in a 



THE DEAD SECRET. 205 

mysterious whisper, "that the best plan, and the plan most 
in accordance with our instructions, is to let them both go, as 
if we did not care to demean ourselves by any more quarrel 
ing or arguing with them, and to have them followed to the 
next place they stop at. The gardener s boy, Jacob, is weed 
ing the broad walk in the west garden this afternoon. These 
people have not seen him about the premises, and need not 
see him, if they are let out again by the south door. Jacob 
is a sharp lad, as you know; and, if he was properly instruct 
ed, I really don t see " 

" It is a most singular circumstance, Mrs. Pentreath," inter 
posed Mr. Munder, with the gravity of consummate assurance ; 
" but when I first sat down to this table, that idea about 
Jacob occurred to me. What with the effort of speaking, 
and the heat of argument, I got led away from it in the most 
unaccountable manner " 

Here Uncle Joseph, whose stock of patience and politeness 
was getting exhausted, put his head into the room again. 

" I shall have one last word to address to you, Sir, in a 
moment," said Mr. Munder, before the old man could speak. 
"Don t you suppose that your blustering and your bullying 
has had any effect on me. It may do with foreigners, Sir ; but 
it won t do with Englishmen, I can tell you." 

Uncle Joseph shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and rejoined 
his niece in the passage outside. While the housekeeper and 
the steward had been conferring together, Sarah had been 
trying hard to persuade her uncle to profit by her knowledge 
of the passages that led to the south door, and to slip away 
unperceived. But the old man steadily refused to be guided 
by her advice. " I will not go out of a place guiltily," he said, 
" when I have done no harm. Nothing shall persuade me to 
put myself, or to put you, in the wrong. I am not a man of 
much wits ; but let my conscience guide me, and so long I 
shall go right. They let us in here, Sarah, of their own ac 
cord ; and they shall let us out of their own accord also." 

"Mr. Munder! Mr. Munder !" whispered the housekeeper, 
interfering to stop a fresh explosion of the steward s indigna 
tion, which threatened to break out at the contempt implied 
by the shrugging of Uncle Joseph s shoulders, " while you 
are speaking to that audacious man, shall I slip into the gar 
den and give Jacob his instructions?" 



206 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Mr. Munder paused before answering tried hard to see a 
more dignified way out of the dilemma in which he had placed 
himself than the way suggested by the housekeeper failed 
entirely to discern any thing of the sort swallowed his in 
dignation at one heroic gulp and replied emphatically in 
two words : " Go, ma am." 

" What does that mean ? what has she gone that way for?" 
said Sarah to her uncle, in a quick, suspicious whisper, as the 
housekeeper brushed hastily by them on her way to the west 
garden. 

Before there was time to answer the question, it was fol 
lowed by another, put by Mr. Munder. 

"Now, Sir!" said the steward, standing in the door-way, 
with his hands under his coat-tails and his head very high in 
the air. " Now, Sir, and now, ma am, for my last words. Am 
I to have a proper explanation of the abstracting and pur 
loining of those keys, or am I not ?" 

" Certainly, Sir, you are to have the explanation," replied 
Uncle Joseph. " It is, if you please, the same explanation 
that I had the honor of giving to you a little while ago. Do 
you wish to hear it again ? It is all the explanation we have 
got about us." 

" Oh ! it is, is it ?" said Mr. Munder. " Then all I have to 
say to both of you is leave the house directly ! Directly !" 
he added, in his most coarsely oifensive tones, taking refuge 
in the insolence of authority, from the dim consciousness of 
the absurdity of his own position, which would force itself on 
him even while he spoke. " Yes, Sir !" he continued, grow 
ing more and more angry at the composure with which Uncle 
Joseph listened to him " Yes, Sir ! you may bow and scrape, 
and jabber your broken English somewhere else. I won t put 
up with you here. I have reflected with myself, and reasoned 
with myself, and asked myself calmly as Englishmen always 
do if it is any use making you of importance, and I have 
come to a conclusion, and that conclusion is no, it isn t ! 
Don t you go away with a notion that your blusterings and 
bullyings have had any effect on me. (Show them out, 
Betsey!) I consider you beneath aye, and below! my 
notice. Language fails, Sir, to express my contempt. Leave 
the house !" 

" And I, Sir," returned the object of all this withering deri- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 207 

sion, with the most exasperating politeness, " I shall say, for 
having your contempt, what I could by no means have said 
for having your respect, which is, briefly thank you. I, the 
small foreigner, take the contempt of you, the big Englishman, 
as the greatest compliment that can be paid from a man of 
your composition to a man of mine." With that, Uncle 
Joseph made a last fantastic bow, took his niece s arm, and 
followed Betsey along the passages that led to the south door, 
leaving Mr. Munder to compose a fit retort at his leisure. 

Ten minutes later the housekeeper returned breathless to 
her room, and found the steward walking backward and for 
ward in a high state of irritation. 

" Pray make your mind easy, Mr. Munder," she said. " They 
are both clear of the house at last, and Jacob has got them 
well in view on the path over the moor." 



CHAPTER V. 

MOZART PLAYS FAREWELL. 

EXCEPTING that he took leave of Betsey, the servant-maid, 
with great cordiality, Uncle Joseph spoke not another word, 
after his parting reply to Mr. Munder, until he and his niece 
were alone again under the east wall of Porthgenna Tower. 
There he paused, looked up at the house, then at his compan 
ion, then back at the house once more, and at last opened his 
lips to speak. 

"I am sorry, my child," he said "I am sorry from my 
heart. This has been what you call in England a bad job." 

Thinking that he referred to the scene which had just passed 
in the housekeeper s room, Sarah asked his pardon for having 
been the innocent means of bringing him into angry collision 
with such a person as Mr. Munder. 

" No ! no ! no !" he cried. " I was not thinking of the man 
of the big body and the big words. He made me angry, it 
is not to be denied ; but that is all over and gone now. I 
put him and his big words away from me, as I kick this stone, 
here, from the pathway into the road. It is not of your Mun- 
ders, or your housekeepers, or your Betzees, that I now speak 
it is of something that is nearer to you and nearer to me 
also, because I make of your interest my own interest too. I 

K 



208 THE DEAD SECRET. 

shall tell you what it is while we walk on for I see in your 
face, Sarah, that you are restless and in fear so long as we 
stop in the neighborhood of this dungeon-house. Come ! I 
ain ready for the march. There is the path. Let us go back 
by it, and pick up our little baggages at the inn where we left 
them, on the other side of this windy wilderness of a place." 

" Yes, yes, uncle ! Let us lose no time ; let us walk fast. 
Don t be afraid of tiring me ; I am much stronger now." 

They turned into the same path by which they had ap 
proached Porthgenna Tower in the afternoon. By the time 
they had walked over a little more than the first hundred 
yards of their journey, Jacob, the gardener s boy, stole out 
from behind the ruinous inclosure at the north side of the 
house with his hoe in his hand. The sun had just set, but 
there was a fine light still over the wide, open surface of the 
moor ; and Jacob paused to let the old man and his niece get 
farther away from the building before he followed them. 
The housekeeper s instructions had directed him just to keep 
them in sight, and no more; and, if he happened to observe 
that they stopped and turned round to look behind them, he 
was to stop, too, and pretend to be digging with his hoe, as 
if he was at work on the moorland. Stimulated by the 
promise of a sixpence, if he was careful to do exactly as he 
had been told, Jacob kept his instructions in his memory, 
and kept his eye on the two strangers, and promised as fairly 
to earn the reward in prospect for him as a boy could. 

" And now, my child, I shall tell you what it is I am sorry 
for," resumed IJncle Joseph, as they proceeded along the 
path. " I am sorry that we have come out upon this jour 
ney, and run our little risk, and had our little scolding, and 
gained nothing. The word you said in my ear, Sarah, when 
I was getting you out of the faint (and you should have come 
out of it sooner, if the muddle-headed people of the dungeon- 
house had been quicker with the water) the word you said 
in my ear was not much, but it was enough to tell me that 
we have taken this journey in vain. I may hold my tongue, 
I may make my best face at it, I may be content to walk 
blindfolded with a mystery that lets no peep of daylight 
into my eyes but it is not the less true that the one thing 
your heart was most set on doing, when we started on this 
journey, is the one thing also that you have not done. I 



THE DEAD SECRET. 209 

know that, if I know nothing else ; and I say again, it is a 
bad job yes, yes, upon my life and faith, there is no disguise 
to put upon it; it is, in your plainest English, a very bad job.^ 

As he concluded the expression of his sympathy in these 
quaint terms, the dread and distrust, the watchful terror, that 
marred the natural softness of Sarah s eyes, disappeared in 
an expression of sorrowful tenderness, which seemed to give 
back to them all their beauty. 

"Don t be sorry for me, uncle," she said, stopping, and 
gently brushing away with her hand some specks of dust 
that lay on the collar of his coat. " I have suffered so much 
and suffered so long, that the heaviest disappointments pass 
lightly over me now." 

" I won t hear you say it !" cried Uncle Joseph. " You 
give me shocks I can t bear when you talk to me in this way. 
You shall have no more disappointments no, you shall not ! 
I, Joseph Buschmann, the Obstinate, the Pig-headed, I say 
it!" 

"The day when I shall have no more disappointments, 
uncle, is not far off now. Let me wait a little longer, and 
endure a little longer: I have learned to be patient, and to 
hope for nothing. Fearing and failing, fearing and failing 
that has been my life ever since I was a young woman the 
life I have become used to by this time. If you are surprised, 
as I know you must be, at my not possessing myself of the 
letter, when I had the keys of the Myrtle Room in my hand, 
and when no one was near to stop me, remember the history 
of my life, and take that as an explanation. Fearing and 
failing, fearing and failing if I told you all the truth, I could 
tell no more than that. Let us walk on, uncle." 

The resignation in her voice and manner while she spoke 
was the resignation of despair. It gave her an unnatural self- 
possession, which altered her, in the eyes of Uncle Joseph, al 
most past recognition. He looked at her in undisguised alarm. 

" No !" he said, " we will not walk on ; we will walk back 
to the dungeon-house ; we will make another plan ; we will 
try to get at this devil s imp of a letter in some other way. 
I care for no Munders, no housekeepers, no Betzees I ! I 
care for nothing but the getting you the one thing you want, 
and the taking you home again as easy in your mind as I am 
myself. Come ! let us go back." 



210 THE DEAD SECKET. 

" It is too late to go back." 

"How too late? Ah, dismal, dingy, dungeon-house of the 
devil, how I hate you !" cried Uncle Joseph, looking back 
over the prospect, and shaking both his fists at Porthgenna 
Tower. 

" It is too late, uncle," she repeated. " Too late, because 
the opportunity is lost; too late, because if I could bring it 
back, I dare not go near the Myrtle Room again. My last 
hope was to change the hiding-place of the letter and that 
last hope I have given up. I have only one object in life left 
now ; you may help me in it ; but I can not tell you how 
unless you come on with me at once unless you say nothing 
more about going back to Porthgenna Tower." 

Uncle Joseph began to expostulate. His niece stopped 
him in the middle of a sentence, by touching him on the 
shoulder and pointing to a particular spot on the darkening 
slope of the moor below them. 

" Look !" she said, " there is somebody on the path behind 
us. Is it a boy or a man ?" 

Uncle Joseph looked through the fading light, and saw a 
figure at some little distance. It seemed like the figure of a 
boy, and he was apparently engaged in digging on the moor. 

" Let us turn round, and go on at once," pleaded Sarah, 
before the old man could answer her. "I can t say what I 
want to say to you, uncle, until we are safe under shelter at 
the inn." 

They went on until they reached the highest ground on 
the moor. There they stopped, and looked back again. The 
rest of their way lay down hill; and the spot on which they 
stood was the last point from which a view could be obtained 
of Porthgenna Tower. 

" We have lost sight of the boy," said Uncle Joseph, look 
ing over the ground below them. 

Sarah s younger and sharper eyes bore witness to the truth 
of her uncle s words the view over the moor was lonely 
now, in every direction, as far as she could see. Before go 
ing on again, she moved a little away from the old man, and 
looked at the tower of the ancient house, rising heavy and 
black in the dim light, with the dark sea background stretch 
ing behind it like a wall. " Never again !" she whispered to 
herself. " Never, never, never again !" Her eyes wandered 



THE DEAD SECEET. 211 

away to the church, and to the cemetery inclosure by its side, 
barely distinguishable now in the shadows of the coming 
night. " Wait for me a little longer," she said, looking to 
ward the burial-ground with straining eyes, and pressing her 
hand on her bosom over the place where the book of Hymns 
lay hid. " My wanderings are nearly at an end ; the day for 
my coming home again is not far oft*!" 

The tears filled her eyes and shut out the view. She re 
joined her uncle, and, taking his arm again, drew him rapidly 
a few steps along the downward path then checked herself, 
as if struck by a sudden suspicion, and walked back a few 
paces to the highest ridge of the ground. " I am not sure," 
she said, replying to her companion s look of surprise " I am 
not sure whether we have seen the last yet of that boy who 
was digging on the moor." 

As the words passed her lips, a figure stole out from behind 
one of the large fragments of granite rock which w r ere scat 
tered over the waste on all sides of them. It was once more 
the figure of the boy, and again he began to dig, without the 
slightest apparent reason, on the barren ground at his feet. 

" Yes, yes, I see," said Uncle Joseph, as his niece eagerly 
directed his attention to the suspicious figure. "It is the 
same boy, and he is digging still and, if you please, what 
of that?" 

Sarah did not attempt to answer. " Let us get on," she 
said, hurriedly. " Let us get on as fast as we can to the inn." 

They turned again, and took the downward path before 
them. In less than a minute they had lost sight of Porth- 
genna Tower, of the old church, and of the whole of the west 
ern view. Still, though there was now nothing but the blank 
darkening moorland to look back at, Sarah persisted in stop 
ping at frequent intervals, as long as there was any light left, 
to glance behind her. She made no remark, she offered no 
excuse for thus delaying the journey back to the inn. It was 
only when they arrived within sight of the lights of the post- 
town that she ceased looking back, and that she spoke to her 
companion. The few words she addressed to him amounted 
to nothing more than a request that he would ask for a 
private sitting-room as soon as they reached their place of 
sojourn for the night. 

They ordered beds at the inn, and were shown into the 



212 THE DEAD SECKET. 

best parlor to wait for supper. The moment they were 
alone, Sarah drew a chair close to the old man s side, and 
whispered these words in his ear 

" Uncle ! we have been followed every step of the way 
from Porthgenna Tower to this place." 

"So! so! And how do you know that?" inquired Uncle 
Joseph. 

"Hush ! Somebody may be listening at the door, some 
body may be creeping under the window. You noticed that 
boy who was digging on the moor ? " 

" Bah ! Why, Sarah ! do you frighten yourself, do you try 
to frighten me about a boy ?" 

" Oh, not so loud ! not so loud ! They have laid a trap for 
us. Uncle ! I suspected it when we first entered the doors 
of Porthgenna Tower; I am sure of it now. What did all 
that whispering mean between the housekeeper and the 
steward when we first got into the hall? I watched their 
faces, and I know they were talking about us. They were 
not half surprised enough at seeing us, not half surprised 
enough at hearing what we wanted. Don t laugh at me, 
uncle ! There is real danger : it is no fancy of mine. The 
keys come closer the keys of the north rooms have got 
new labels on them; the doors have all been numbered. 
Think of that ! Think of the whispering when we came in, 
and the whispering afterward, in the housekeeper s room, 
when you got up to go away. You noticed the sudden 
change in that man s behavior after the housekeeper spoke 
to him you must have noticed it? They let us in too easily, 
and they let us out too easily. No, no ! I am not deluding 
myself. There was some secret motive for letting us into 
the house, and some secret motive for letting us out again. 
That boy on the moor betrays it, if nothing else does. I saw 
him following us all the way here, as plainly as I see you. 
I am not frightened without reason, this time. As surely as 
we two are together in this room, there is a trap laid for us 
by the people at Porthgenna Tower !" 

" A trap ? What trap ? And how ? and why ? and where 
fore ?" inquired Uncle Joseph, expressing bewilderment by 
waving both his hands rapidly to and fro close before his 
eyes. 

" They want to make me speak, they want to follow me, 



THE DEAD SECEET. 213 

they want to find out where I go, they want to ask me ques 
tions," she answered, trembling violently. " Uncle ! you re 
member what I told you of those crazed words I said to Mrs. 
Frankland I ought to have cut my tongue out rather than 
have spoken them ! They have done dreadful mischief I 
am certain of it dreadful mischief already. I have made 
myself suspected ! I shall be questioned, if Mrs. Frankland 
finds me out again. She will try to find me out we shall be 
inquired after here we must destroy all trace of where we 
go to next we must make sure that the people at this inn 
can answer no questions oh, Uncle Joseph ! whatever we 
do, let us make sure of that !" 

" Good," said the old man, nodding his head with a per 
fectly self-satisfied air. " Be quite easy, my child, and leave 
it to me to make sure. When you are gone to bed, I shall 
send for the landlord, and I shall say, Get us a little car 
riage, if you please, Sir, to take us back again to-morrow to 
the coach for Truro. " 

" No, no, no ! we must not hire a carriage here." 

" And I say, yes, yes, yes ! We will hire a carriage here, 
because I will, first of all, make sure with the landlord. List 
en. I shall say to him, * If there come after us people with 
inquisitive looks in their eyes and uncomfortable questions 
in their mouths if you please, Sir, hold your tongue. Then 
I shall wink my eye, I shall lay my finger, so, to the side of 
my nose, I shall give one little laugh that means much and, 
crick ! crack ! I have made sure of the landlord ! and there is 
an end of it !" 

" We must not trust the landlord, uncle we must not 
trust any body. When w r e leave this place to-morrow, we 
must leave it on foot, and take care no living soul follows us. 
Look ! here is a map of West Cornwall hanging up on the 
wall, w^ith roads and cross-roads all marked on it. We may 
find out beforehand what direction we ought to walk in. A 
night s rest will give me all the strength I want ; and we have 
no luggage that we can not carry. You have nothing but 
your knapsack, and I have nothing but the little carpet-bag 
you lent me. We can walk six, seven, even ten miles, with 
resting by the way. Come here and look at the map pray, 
pray come and look at the map !" 

Protesting against the abandonment of his own project, 



214 THE DEAD SECKET. 

which he declared, and sincerely believed, to be perfectly 
adapted to meet the emergency in which they were placed, 
Uncle Joseph joined his niece in examining the map. A lit 
tle beyond the post-town, a cross-road was marked, running 
northward at right angles with the highway that led to 
Truro, and conducting to another road, which looked large 
enough to be a coach-road, and which led through a town of 
sufficient importance to have its name printed in capital let 
ters. On discovering this, Sarah proposed that they should 
follow the cross-road (which did not appear on the map to 
be more than five or six miles long) on foot, abstaining from 
taking any conveyance until they had arrived at the town 
marked in capital letters. By pursuing this course, they 
would destroy all trace of their progress after leaving the 
post-town unless, indeed, they were followed on foot from 
this place, as they had been followed over the moor. In the 
event of any fresh difficulty of that sort occurring, Sarah had 
no better remedy to propose than lingering on the road till 
after nightfall, and leaving it to the darkness to baffle the 
vigilance of any person who might be watching in the dis 
tance to see where they went. 

TThcle Joseph shrugged his shoulders resignedly when his 
niece gave her reasons for wishing to continue the journey on 
foot. " There is much tramping through dust, and much look 
ing behind us, and much spying and peeping and suspecting 
and roundabout walking in all this," he said. " It is by no 
means so easy, my child, as making sure of the landlord, and 
sitting at our ease on the cushions of the stage-coach. But if 
you will have it so, so shall it be. What you please, Sarah ; 
what you please that is all the opinion of my own that I 
allow myself to have till we are back again at Truro, and are 
rested for good and all at the end of our journey." 

"At the end of your journey, uncle : I dare not say at the 
end of mine." 

Those few words changed the old man s face in an instant. 
His eyes fixed reproachfully on his niece, his ruddy cheeks lost 
their color, his restless hands dropped suddenly to his sides. 
" Sarah !" he said, in a low, quiet tone, which seemed to have 
no relation to the voice in which he spoke on ordinary oc 
casions " Sarah ! have you the heart to leave me again ?" 

" Have I the courage to stay in Cornwall ? That is the 



THE DEAD SECEET. 215 

question to ask me, uncle. If I had only my own heart to 
consult, oh ! how gladly I should live under your roof live 
under it, if you would let me, to my dying day ! But my lot 
is not cast for such rest and such happiness as that. The fear 
that I have of being questioned by Mrs. Frankland drives me 
away from Porthgenna, away from Cornwall, away from you. 
Even my dread of the letter being found is hardly so great 
now as my dread of being traced and questioned. I have 
said what I ought not to have said already. If I find myself 
in Mrs. Frankland s presence again, there is nothing that she 
might not draw out of me. Oh, my God ! to think of that 
kind - hearted, lovely young woman, who brings happiness 
with her wherever she goes, bringing terror to me ! Terror 
when her pitying eyes look at me; terror when her kind 
voice speaks to me ; terror when her tender hand touches 
mine ! Uncle ! when Mrs. Frankland comes to Porthgenna, 
the very children will crowd about her every creature in 
that poor village will be drawn toward the light of her 
beauty and her goodness, as if it was the sunshine of Heaven 
itself; and I I, of all living beings must shun her as if she 
was a pestilence ! The day when she comes into Cornwall 
is the day when I must go out of it the day when we two 
must say farewell. Don t, don t add to my wretchedness by 
asking me if I have the heart to leave you ! For my dead 
mother s sake, Uncle Joseph, believe that I am grateful, be 
lieve that it is not my own will that takes me away when I 
leave you again." She sank down on a sofa near her, laid 
her head, with one long, deep sigh, wearily on the pillow, and 
spoke no more. 

The tears gathered thick in Uncle Joseph s eyes as he sat 
down by her side. He took one of her hands, and patted and 
stroked it as though he were soothing a little child. " I will 
bear it as well as I can, Sarah," he whispered, faintly, " and I 
will say no more. You will write to me sometimes, when I 
am left all alone ? You will give a little time to Uncle Joseph, 
for the poor dead mother s sake ?" 

She turned toward him suddenly, and threw both her arms 
round his neck with a passionate energy that was strangely 
at variance with her naturally quiet self-repressed character. 
" I will write often, dear ; I will write always," she whispered, 
with her head on his bosom. " If I am ever in any trouble 

K2 



216 THE DEAD SECRET. 

or danger, you shall know it." She stopped confusedly, as 
if the freedom of her own words and actions terrified her, un 
clasped her arms, and, turning away abruptly from the old 
man, hid her face in her hands. The tyranny of the restraint 
that governed her whole life was all expressed how sadly, 
how eloquently ! in that one little action. 

Uncle Joseph rose from the sofa, and walked gently back 
ward and forward in the room, looking anxiously at his niece, 
but not speaking to her. After a while the servant came in 
to prepare the table for supper. It was a welcome interrup 
tion, for it obliged Sarah to make an effort to recover her 
self-possession. After the meal was over, the uncle and niece 
separated at once for the night, without venturing to ex 
change another word on the subject of their approaching 
separation. 

When they met the next morning, the old man had not re 
covered his spirits. Although he tried to speak as cheerfully 
as usual, there was something strangely subdued and quiet 
about him in voice, look, and manner. Sarah s heart smote 
her as she saw how sadly he was altered by the prospect of 
their parting. She said a few words of consolation and hope; 
but he only waved his hand negatively, in his quaint foreign 
manner, and hastened out of the room to find the landlord 
and ask for the bill. 

Soon after breakfast, to the surprise of the people at the 
inn, they set forth to continue their journey on foot, Uncle 
Joseph carrying his knapsack on his back, and his niece s 
carpet-bag in his hand. When they arrived at the turning 
that led into the cross-road, they both stopped and looked 
back. This time they saw nothing to alarm them. There 
was no living creature visible on the broad highway over 
which they had been walking for the last quarter of an hour 
after leaving the inn. 

" The way is clear," said Uncle Joseph, as they turned into 
the cross-road. " Whatever might have happened yesterday, 
there is nobody following us now." 

" Nobody that we can see," answered Sarah. " But I dis 
trust the very stones by the road-side. Let us look back often, 
uncle, before we allow ourselves to feel secure. The more I 
think of it, the more I dread the snare that is laid for us by 
those people at Porthgenna Tower." 



, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 217 

" You say its, Sarah. Why should they lay a snare for 
me ?" 

" Because they have seen you in my company. You will 
be safer from them when we are parted ; and that is another 
reason, Uncle Joseph, why we should bear the misfortune of 
our separation as patiently as we can." 

" Are you going far, very far away, Sarah, when you leave 
me?" 

" I dare not stop on my journey till I can feel that I am I 
lost in the great world of London. Don t look at me so sad- ) 
ly ! I shall never forget my promise ; I shall never forget to 
write. I have friends not friends like you, but still friends 
to whom I can go. I can feel safe from discovery nowhere 
but in London. My danger is great it is, it is, indeed ! I 
know, from what I have seen at Porthgenna, that Mrs. Frank- 
land has an interest already in finding me out ; and I am cer 
tain that this interest will be increased tenfold when she 
hears (as she is sure to hear) of what happened yesterday in 
the house. If they should trace you to Truro, oh, be careful, j 
uncle ! be careful how you deal with them ; be careful how 
you answer their questions !" / 

"I will answer nothing, my child. But tell me for I 
want to know all the little chances that there are of your 
coming back tell me, if Mrs. Frankland finds the letter, what 
shall you do then ?" 

At that question, Sarah s hand, which had been resting 
languidly on her uncle s arm while they walked together, 
closed on it suddenly. " Even if Mrs. Frankland gets into 
the Myrtle Room," she said, stopping and looking affrightedly 
about her while she replied, " she may not find the letter. It 
is folded up so small ; it is hidden in such an unlikely place." 

"But if she does find it?" 

"If she does, there will be more reason than ever for my 
being miles and miles away." 

As she gave that answer, she raised both her hands to her 
heart, and pressed them firmly over it. A slight distortion 
passed rapidly across her features ; her eyes closed ; her face 
flushed all over then turned paler again than ever. She 
drew out her pocket-handkerchief, and passed it several times 
over her face, on which the perspiration had gathered thickly. 
The old man, who had looked behind him when his niece 



218 THE DEAD SECliET. 

stopped, under the impression that she had just seen some 
body following them, observed this latter action, and asked 
if she felt too hot. She shook her head, and took his arm 
again to go on, breathing, as he fancied, with some difficulty. 
He proposed that they should sit down by the road-side and 
rest a little ; but she only answered, " Not yet." So they 
went on for another half-hour; then turned to look behind 
them again, and, still seeing nobody, sat down for a little 
whjle to rest on a bank by the way-side. 

After stopping twice more at convenient resting-places, 
they reached the end of the cross-road. On the highway to 
which it led them they were overtaken by a man driving an 
empty cart, who offered to give them a lift as far as the next 
town. They accepted the proposal gratefully ; and, arriving 
at the town, after a drive of half an hour, were set down at 
the door of the principal inn. Finding on inquiry at this 
place that they were too late for the coach, they took a pri 
vate conveyance, which brought them to Truro late in the 
afternoon. Throughout the whole of the journey, from the 
time when they left the post-town of Porthgenna to the time 
when they stopped, by Sarah s desire, at the coach-office in 
Truro, they had seen nothing to excite the smallest suspicion 
that their movements were being observed. None of the 
people whom they saw in the inhabited places, or whom they 
passed on the road, appeared to take more than the most cas 
ual notice of them. 

It was five o clock when they entered the office at Truro 
to ask about conveyances running in the direction of Exeter. 
They were informed that a coach would start in an hour s 
time, and that another coach would pass through Truro at 
eight o clock the next morning. 

" You will not go to-night ?" pleaded Uncle Joseph. " You 
will wait, my child, and rest with me till to-morrow ?" 

"I had better go, uncle, while I have some little resolution 
left," was the sad answer. 

" But you are so pale, so tired, so weak." 

" I shall never be stronger than I am now. Don t set my 
own heart against me ! It is hard enough to go without that." 

Uncle Joseph sighed, and said no more. He led the way 
across the road and down the by-street to his house. The 
cheerful man in the shop was polishing a piece of wood be- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 219 

hind the counter, sitting in the same position in which Sarah 
had seen him when she first looked through the window on 
her arrival at Truro. He had good news for his master of 
orders received, but Uncle Joseph listened absently to all 
that his shopman said, and hastened into the little back par 
lor without the faintest reflection of its customary smile on 
his face. " If I had no shop and no orders, I might go away 
with you, Sarah," he said when he and his niece were alone. 
"Aie! Aie! the setting out on this journey has been the 
only happy part of it. Sit down and rest, my child. I must 
put my best face upon it, and get you some tea." 

When the tea-tray had been placed on the table, he left the 
room, and returned, after an absence of some little time, with 
a basket in his hand. When the porter came to carry the 
luggage to the coach-office, he would not allow the basket to 
be taken away at the same time, but sat down and placed it 
between his feet while he occupied himself in pouring out a 
cup of tea for his niece. 

The musical box still hung at his side in its traveling-case 
of leather. As soon as he had poured out the cup of tea, he 
unbuckled the strap, removed the covering from the box, and 
placed it on the table near him. His eyes wandered hesi 
tatingly toward Sarah, as he did this ; he leaned forward, his 
lips trembling a little, his hand trifling uneasily with the 
empty leather case that now lay on his knees, and said to her 
in low, unsteady tones 

" You will hear a little farewell song of Mozart ? It may 
be a long time, Sarah, before he can play to you again. A 
little farewell song, my child, before you go ?" 

His hand stole up gently from the leather case to the table, 
and set the box playing the same air that Sarah had heard 
on the evening when she entered the parlor, after her jour 
ney from Somersetshire, and found him sitting alone listen 
ing to the music. What depths of sorrow there were now 
in those few simple notes ! What mournful memories of past 
times gathered and swelled in the heart at the bidding of 
that one little plaintive melody ! Sarah could not summon 
the courage to lift her eyes to the old man s face they might 
have betrayed to him that she was thinking of the days when 
the box that he treasured so dearly played the air they were 
listening to now by the bedside of his dying child. 



220 THE DEAD SECRET. 

The stop had not been set, and the melody, after it had 
come to an end, began again. But now, after the first few 
bars, the notes succeeded one another more and more slowly 
the air grew less and less recognizable dropped at last to 
three notes, following each other at long intervals then 
ceased altogether. The chain that governed the action of 
the machinery had all run out; Mozart s farewell song was 
silenced on a sudden, like a voice that had broken down. 

The old man started, looked earnestly at his niece, and 
threw the leather case over the box as if he desired to shut 
out the sight of it. " The music stopped so," he whispered 
to himself, in his own language, " when little Joseph died ! 
Don t go !" he added quickly, in English, almost before Sarah 
had time to feel surprised at the singular change that had 
taken place in his voice and manner. "Don t go! Think 
better of it, and stop with me." 

" I have no choice, uncle, but to leave you indeed, indeed 
I have not ! You don t think me ungrateful ? Comfort me 
at the last moment by telling me that !" 

He pressed her hand in silence, and kissed her on both 
cheeks. " My heart is very heavy for you, Sarah," he said. 
" The fear has come to me that it is not for your own good 
that you are going away from Uncle Joseph now !" 

"I have no choice," she sadly repeated "no choice but to 
leave you." 

" It is time, then, to get the parting over." The cloud of 
doubt and fear that had altered his face, from the moment 
when the music came to its untimely end, seemed to darken, 
when he had said those words. He took up the basket which 
he had kept so carefully at his feet, and led the way out in 
silence. 

They were barely in time ; the driver was mounting to his 
seat when they got to the coach-office. " God preserve you, 
my child, and send you back to me soon, safe and well. Take 
the basket on your lap ; there are some little things in it for 
your journey." His voice faltered at the last word, and 
Sarah felt his lips pressed on her hand. The next instant the 
door was closed, and she saw him dimly through her tears 
standing among the idlers on the pavement, who were wait 
ing to see the coach drive off. 

By the time they were a little way out of the town she was 



THE DEAD SECRET. 221 

able to dry her eyes and look into the basket. It contained 
a pot of jam and a horn spoon, a small inlaid work-box from 
the stock in the shop, a piece of foreign-looking cheese, a 
French roll, and a little paper packet of money, with the 
words " Don t be angry " written on it, in Uncle Joseph s 
hand. Sarah closed the cover of the basket again, and drew 
down her veil. She had not felt the sorrow of the parting 
in all its bitterness until that moment. Oh, how hard it was 
to be banished from the sheltering home which was offered 
to her by the one friend she had left in the world ! 

While that thought was in her mind, the old man was just 
closing the door of his lonely parlor. His eyes wandered to 
the tea-tray on the table and to Sarah s empty cup, and he 
whispered to himself in his own language again 

" The music stopped so when little Joseph died !" 



THE DEAD SECKET. 



BOOK V. 

CHAPTER I. 

AN OLD FRIEND AND A NEW SCHEME. 

IN declaring, positively, that the boy whom she had seen 
digging on the moor had followed her uncle and herself to 
the post-town of Porthgenna, Sarah had asserted the literal 
truth. Jacob had tracked them to the inn, had waited a 
little while about the door, to ascertain if there was any like 
lihood of their continuing their journey that evening, and 
had then returned to Porthgenna Tower to make his report, 
and to claim his promised reward. 

The same night, the housekeeper and the steward devoted 
themselves to the joint production of a letter to Mrs. Frank- 
land, informing her of all that had taken place, from the time 
when the visitors first made their appearance, to the time 
when the gardener s boy had followed them to the door of 
the inn. The composition was plentifully garnished through 
out with the flowers of Mr. Munder s rhetoric, and was, by a 
necessary consequence, inordinately long as a narrative, and 
hopelessly confused as a statement of facts. 

It is unnecessary to say that the letter, with all its faults 
and absurdities, was read by Mrs. Franklanct with the deep 
est interest. Her husband and Mr. Orridge, to both of whom 
she communicated its contents, were as much amazed and 
perplexed by it as she was herself. Although the discovery 
of Mrs. Jazeph s departure for Cornwall had led them to con 
sider it within the range of possibility that she might appear 
at Porthgenna, and although the housekeeper had been writ 
ten to by Rosamond under the influence of that idea, neither 
she nor her husband were quite prepared for such a speedy 
confirmation of their suspicions as they had now received. 
Their astonishment, however, on first ascertaining the gen 
eral purport of the letter, was as nothing compared with their 
astonishment when they came to those particular passages in 
it which referred to IJncle Joseph. The fresh element of 



THE DEAD SECRET. 223 

complication imparted to the thickening mystery of Mrs. Ja- 
zeph and the Myrtle Room, by the entrance of the foreign 
stranger on the scene, and by his intimate connection with 
the extraordinary proceedings that had taken place in the 
house, fairly baffled them all. The letter was read again and 
again; was critically dissected paragraph by paragraph; was 
carefully annotated by the doctor, for the purpose of extri 
cating all the facts that it contained from the mass of un 
meaning words in which Mr.Munder had artfully and length 
ily involved them; and was finally pronounced, after all the i 
pains that had been taken to render it intelligible, to be the 
most mysterious and bewildering document that mortal pen 
had ever produced. 

The first practical suggestion, after the letter had been 
laid aside in despair, emanated from Rosamond. She pro 
posed that her husband and herself (the baby included, as a 
matter of course) should start at once for Porthgenna, to 
question the servants minutely about the proceedings of Mrs. 
Jazeph and the foreign stranger who had accompanied her, 
and to examine the premises on the north side of the house, 
with a view to discovering a clew to the locality of the Myr 
tle Room, while events were still fresh in the memories of 
witnesses. The plan thus advocated, however excellent in 
itself, was opposed by Mr. Orridge on medical grounds. Mrs. 
Frankland had caught cold by exposing herself too carelessly 
to the air, on first leaving her room, and the doctor refused 
to grant her permission to travel for at least a week to come, 
if not for a longer period. 

The next proposal came from Mr. Frankland. He declared i 
it to be perfectly clear to his mind that the only chance of 
penetrating the mystery of the Myrtle Room rested entirely 
on the discovery of some means of communicating with Mrs. 
Jazeph. He suggested that they should not trouble them 
selves to think of any thing unconnected with the accom 
plishment of this purpose ; and he proposed that the servant 
then in attendance on him at West Winston a man who 
had been in his employment for many years, and whose zeal, i 
activity, and intelligence could be thoroughly depended on 
should be sent to Porthgenna forthwith, to start the neces- ! 
sary inquiries, and to examine the premises carefully on the 
north side of the house. 



224 THE DEAD SECRET. 

This advice was immediately acted on. At an hour s no 
tice the servant started for Cornwall, thoroughly instructed 
as to what he was to do, and well supplied with money, in 
case he found it necessary to employ many persons in making 
the proposed inquiries. In due course of time he sent a re 
port of his proceedings to his master. It proved to be of a 
most discouraging nature. 

All trace of Mrs. Jazeph and her companion had been lost 
at the post-town of Porthgenna. Investigations had been 
made in every direction, but no reliable information had 
been obtained. People in totally diiferent parts of the coun 
try declared readily enough that they had seen two persons 
answering to the description of the lady in the dark dress 
and the old foreigner; but when they w r ere called upon to 
state the direction in which the two strangers were travel 
ing, the answers received turned out to be of the most puz 
zling and contradictory kind. No pains had been spared, no 
necessary expenditure of money had been grudged ; but, so 
far, no results of the slightest value had been obtained. 
Whether the lady and the foreigner had gone east, west, 
north, or south, was more than Mr. Frankland s servant, at 
the present stage of the proceedings, could take it on him 
self to say. 

The report of the examination of the north rooms was not 
more satisfactory. Here, again, nothing of any importance 
could be discovered. The servant had ascertained that there 
were twenty-two rooms on the uninhabited side of the house 
six on the ground-floor opening into the deserted garden, 
eight on the first floor, and eight above that, on the second 
story. He had examined all the doors carefully from top to 
bottom, and had come to the conclusion that none of them 
had been opened. The evidence aiforded by the lady s own 
actions led to nothing. She had, if the testimony of the serv 
ant could be trusted, dropped the keys on the floor of the 
hall. She was found, as the housekeeper and the steward as 
serted, lying, in a fainting condition, at the top of the land 
ing of the first flight of stairs. The door opposite to her, in 
this position, showed no more traces of having been recently 
opened than any of the other doors of the other twenty-one 
rooms. Whether the room to which she wished to gain ac 
cess was one of the eight on the first floor, or whether she 



THE DEAD SECRET. 225 

had fainted on her way up to the higher range of eight rooms 
on the second floor, it was impossible to determine. 

The only conclusions that could be fairly drawn from the 
events that had taken place in the house were two in num 
ber. First, it might be taken for granted that the lady had 
been disturbed before she had been able to use the keys to 
gain admission to the Myrtle Room. Secondly, it might be 
assumed, from the position in which she was found on the 
stairs, and from the evidence relating to the dropping of the 
keys, that the Myrtle Room was not on the ground-floor, but 
was one of the sixteen rooms situated on the first and second 
stories. Beyond this the writer of the report had nothing 
further to mention, except that he had ventured to decide on 
waiting at Porthgenna, in the event of his master having any 
further instructions to communicate. 

What was to be done next ? That was necessarily the first 
question suggested by the servant s announcement of the un 
successful result of his inquiries at Porthgenna. How it was 
to be answered was not very easy to discover. Mrs. Frank- 
land had nothing to suggest, Mr. Frankland had nothing to 
suggest, the doctor had nothing to suggest. The more in 
dustriously they all three hunted through their minds for a 
new idea, the less chance there seemed to be of their succeed 
ing in finding one. At last, Rosamond proposed, in despair, 
that they should seek the advice of some fourth person who 
could be depended on; and asked her husband s permission 
to write a confidential statement of their difficulties to the 
vicar of Long Beckley. Doctor Chennery was their oldest 
friend and adviser ; he had known them both as children ; he 
was well acquainted with the history of their families ; he felt 
a fatherly interest in their fortunes; and he possessed that 
invaluable quality of plain, clear-headed common-sense which 
marked him out as the very man who would be most likely, 
as well as most willing, to help them. 

Mr. Frankland readily agreed to his wife s suggestion; and 
Rosamond wrote immediately to Doctor Chennery, informing 
him of every thing that had happened since Mrs. Jazeph s 
first introduction to her, and asking him for his opinion on 
the course of proceeding which it would be best for her hus 
band and herself to adopt in the difficulty in which they 
were now placed. By return of post an answer was received, 



226 THE DEAP SECRET. 

which amply justified Rosamond s reliance on her old friend. 
Doctor Chennery not only sympathized heartily with the 
eager cariosity which Mrs. Jazeph s language and conduct 
had excited in the mind of his correspondent, but he had also 
a plan of his own to propose for ascertaining the position of 
the Myrtle Room. 

The vicar prefaced his suggestion by expressing a strong 
opinion against instituting any further search after Mrs. Ja- 
zeph. Judging by the circumstances, as they were related 
to him, he considered that it would be the merest waste of 
time to attempt to find her out. Accordingly he passed 
from that part of the subject at once, and devoted himself to 
the consideration of the more important question How Mr. 
and Mrs. Frankland were to proceed in the endeavor to dis 
cover for themselves the mystery of the Myrtle Room? 

On this point Doctor Chennery entertained a conviction 
of the strongest kind, and he warned Rosamond beforehand 
that she must expect to be very much surprised when he 
came to the statement of it. Taking it for granted that she 
and her husband could not hope to find out where the room 
was, unless they were assisted by some one better acquainted 
than themselves with the old local arrangements of the in 
terior of Porthgenna Tower, the vicar declared it to be his 
opinion that there was only one individual living who could 
afford them the information they wanted, and that this per 
son was no other than Rosamond s own cross-grained rela 
tive, Andrew Treverton. 

This startling opinion Doctor Chennery supported by two 
reasons. In the first place, Andrew was the only surviving 
member of the elder generation who had lived at Porthgenna 
Tower in the by-gone days when all traditions connected 
with the north rooms were still fresh in the memories of the 
inhabitants of the house. The people who lived in it now 
were strangers, who had been placed in their situations by 
Mr.Frankland s father; and the servants employed in former 
days by Captain Treverton were dead or dispersed. The one 
available person, therefore, whose recollections were likely 
to be of any service to Mr. and Mrs. Frankland, was indis 
putably the brother of the old owner of Porthgenna Tower. 

In the second place, there was the chance, even if Andrew 
Treverton s memory was not to be trusted, that he might 



T11E DEAD SECRET. 227 

possess written or printed information relating to the locality 
of the Myrtle Room. By his father s will which had been 
made when Andrew was a young man just going to college, 
and which had not been altered at the period of his depart 
ure from England, or at any after-time he had inherited the 
choice old collection of books in the library at Porthgenna. 
Supposing that he still preserved these heir- looms, it was 
highly probable that there might exist among them some 
plan, or some description of the house as it was in the olden 
time, which would supply all the information that was want 
ed. Here, then, was another valid reason for believing that 
if a clew to the position of the Myrtle Room existed any 
where, Andrew Treverton was the man to lay his hand on it. 

Assuming it, therefore, to be proved that the surly old mis 
anthrope was the only person who could be profitably applied 
to for the requisite information, the next question was, How 
to communicate with him ? The vicar understood perfectly 
that after Andrew s inexcusably heartless conduct toward 
her father and mother, it was quite impossible for Rosamond 
to address any direct application to him. The obstacle, how 
ever, might be surmounted by making the necessary com 
munication proceed from Doctor Chennery. Heartily as the 
vicar disliked Andrew Treverton personally, and strongly as 
he disapproved of the old misanthrope s principles, he was 
willing to set aside his own antipathies and objections to 
serve the interests of his young friends ; and he expressed 
his perfect readiness to write and recall himself to Andrew s 
recollection, and to ask, as if it was a matter of antiquarian 
curiosity, for information on the subject of the north side of 
Porthgenna Tower including, of course, a special request to 
be made acquainted with the names by which the rooms had 
been individually known in former days. 

In making this offer, the vicar frankly acknowledged that 
he thought the chances were very much against his receiving 
any answer at all to his application, no matter how carefully 
he might word it, with a view to humoring Andrew s churl 
ish peculiarities. However, considering that, in the present 
posture of affairs, a forlorn hope was better than no hope at 
all, he thought it was at least worth while to make the at 
tempt on the plan which he had just suggested. If Mr. and 
Mrs. Frankland could devise any better means of opening 



228 THE DEAD SECKET. 

communications with Andrew Treverton, or if they had dis 
covered any new method of their own for obtaining the in 
formation of which they stood in need, Doctor Chennery was 
perfectly ready to set aside his own opinions and to defer to 
theirs. 

A very brief consideration of the vicar s friendly letter con 
vinced Rosamond and her husband that they had no choice 
but gratefully to accept the oifer which it contained. The 
chances were certainly against the success of the proposed 
application ; but were they more unfavorable than the chances 
against the success of any unaided investigations at Porth- 
genna ? There was, at least, a faint hope of Doctor Chen- 
nery s request for information producing some results; but 
there seemed no hope at all of penetrating a mystery con 
nected with one room only, by dint of wandering, in perfect 
ignorance of what to search for, through two ranges of rooms 
which reached the number of sixteen. Influenced by these 
considerations, Rosamond wrote back to the vicar to thank 
him for his kindness, and to beg that he would communicate 
with Andrew Treverton, as he had proposed, without a mo 
ment s delay. 

Doctor Chennery immediately occupied himself in the com 
position of the important letter, taking care to make the ap 
plication on purely antiquarian grounds, and accounting for 
his assumed curiosity on the subject of the interior of Porth- 
genna Tower by referring to his former knowledge of the 
Treverton family, and to his natural interest in the old house 
with which their name and fortunes had been so closely con 
nected. After appealing to Andrew s early recollections for 
the information that he wanted, he ventured a step farther, 
and alluded to the library of old books, mentioning his own 
idea that there might be found among them some plan or ver 
bal description of the house, which might prove to be of the 
greatest service, in the event of Mr. Treverton s memory not 
having preserved all particulars in connection with the names 
and positions of the north rooms. In conclusion, he took the 
liberty of mentioning that the loan of any document of the 
kind to which he had alluded, or the permission to have ex 
tracts made from it, would be thankfully acknowledged as a 
great favor conferred ; and he added, in a postscript, that, in 
order to save Mr. Treverton all trouble, a messenger would 



THE DEAD SECJIET. 229 

call for any answer he might be disposed to give the day 
after the delivery of the letter. Having completed the ap 
plication in these terms, the vicar inclosed it under cover to 
his man of business in London, with directions that it was to 
be delivered by a trustworthy person, and that the messenger 
was to call again the next morning to know if there was any 
answer. 

Three days after this letter had been dispatched to its des 
tination at which time no tidings of any sort had been re 
ceived from Doctor Chennery Rosamond at last obtained 
her medical attendant s permission to travel. Taking leave 
of Mr. Orridge, with many promises to let him know what 
progress they made toward discovering the Myrtle Room, 
Mr. and Mrs. Frankland turned their backs on West Winston, 
and for the third time started on the journey to Porthgenna 
Tower. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END. 

IT was baking -day in the establishment of Mr. Andrew 
Treverton when the messenger intrusted with Doctor Chen- 
nery s letter found his way to the garden door of the cottage 
at Bayswater. After he had rung three times, he heard a 
gruff voice, on the other side of the wall, roaring at him to 
let the bell alone, and asking who he was, and what the devil 
he wanted. 

"A letter for Mr. Treverton," said the messenger, nervous 
ly backing away from the door while he spoke. 

" Chuck it over the wall, then, and be off with you !" an 
swered the gruff voice. 

The messenger obeyed both injunctions. He was a meek, 
modest, elderly man; and when Nature mixed up the ingre 
dients of his disposition, the capability of resenting injuries 
was not among them. 

The man with the gruff voice or, to put it in plainer 
terms, the man Shrowl picked up the letter, weighed it in 
his hand, looked at the address on it with an expression of 
contemptuous curiosity in his bull-terrier eyes, put it in his 
waistcoat pocket, and walked around lazily to the kitchen en 
trance of the cottage. 



230 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Iii the apartment which would probably have been called 
the pantry, if the house had belonged to civilized tenants, a 
hand-mill had been set up ; and, at the moment when Shrowl 
made his way to this room, Mr. Treverton was engaged in 
asserting his independence of all the millers in England by 
grinding his own corn. He paused irritably in turning the 
handle of the mill when his servant appeared at the door. 

"What do you come here for?" he asked. "When the 
flour s ready, I ll call for you. Don t let s look at each other 
oftener than we can help ! I never set eyes on you, Shrowl, 
but I ask myself whether, in the whole range of creation, 
there is any animal as ugly as man ? I saw a cat this morn 
ing on the garden wall, and there wasn t a single point in 
which you would bear comparison with him. The cat s eyes 
were clear yours are muddy. The cat s nose was straight 
yours is crooked. The cat s whiskers were clean yours 
are dirty. The cat s coat fitted him yours hangs about you 
like a sack. I tell you again, Shrowl, the species to which 
you (and I) belong is the ugliest on the whole face of crea 
tion. Don t let us revolt each other by keeping in company 
any longer. Go away, you last, worst, infirmest freak of Nat 
ure go away !" 

Shrowl listened to this complimentary address with an as 
pect of surly serenity. When it had come to an end, he took 
the letter from his waistcoat pocket, without condescend 
ing to make any reply. He was, by this time, too thoroughly 
conscious of his own power over his master to attach the 
smallest importance to any thing Mr. Treverton might say 
to him. 

" Now you ve done your talking, suppose you take a look 
at that," said Shrowl, dropping the letter carelessly on a deal 
table by his master s side. " It isn t often that people trouble 
themselves to send^letters to you is it ? I wonder whether 
your niece has took a fancy to write to you ? It was put in 
the papers the other day that she d got a son and heir. 
Open the letter, and see if it s an invitation to the christen 
ing. The company would be sure to want your smiling face 
at the table to make em jolly. Just let me take a grind at 
the mill, while you go out and get a silver mug. The son 
and heir expects a mug you know, and his nurse expects 
half a guinea, and his mamma expects all your fortune. 



THE DEAD SECKET. 231 

What a pleasure to make the three innocent creeturs happy ! 
It s shocking to see you pulling wry faces, like that, over the 
letter. Lord ! lord ! where can all your natural affection 
have gone to ? " 

" If I only knew where to lay my hand on a gag, I d cram 
it into your infernal mouth!" cried Mr. Treverton. "How 
dare you talk to me about my niece? You wretch! you 
know I hate her for her mother s sake. What do you mean 
by harping perpetually on my fortune? Sooner than leave 
it to the play-actress s child, I d even leave it to you ; and 
sooner than leave it to you, I would take every farthing of it 
out in a boat, and bury it forever at the bottom of the sea !" 
Venting his dissatisfaction in these strong terms, Mr. Trev 
erton snatched up Doctor Chennery s letter, and tore it open 
in a humor which by no means promised favorably for the 
success of the vicar s application. 

lie read the letter with an ominous scowl on his face, 
which grew darker and darker as he got nearer and nearer 
to the end. When he came to the signature his humor 
changed, and he laughed sardonically. " Faithfully yours, 
Robert Chennery," he repeated to himself. " Yes ! faithful 
ly mine, if I humor your whim. And what if I don t, par 
son ?" He paused, and looked at the letter again, the scowl 
re-appearing on his face as he did so. " There s a lie of some 
kind lurking about under these lines of fair writing," he mut 
tered suspiciously. "Jam not one of his congregation: the 
law gives him no privilege of imposing on me. W^hat docs 
he mean by making the attempt ?" He stopped again, re 
flected a little, looked up suddenly at Shrowl, and said to 
him, 

" Have you lit the oven fire yet ?" 

" No, I hav n t," answered Shrowl. 

Mr. Treverton examined the letter for the third time hes 
itated then slowly tore it in half, and tossed the two pieces 
over contemptuously to his servant. 

" Light the fire at once," he said. " And, if you want pa 
per, there it is for you. Stop !" he added, after Shrowl had 
picked up the torn letter. " If any body comes here to-mor 
row morning to ask for an answer, tell them I gave you the 
letter to light the fire with, and say that s the answer." 
With those words Mr. Treverton returned to the mill, and 

L 



232 TUB DEAD SECRET. 

began to grind at it again, with a grin of malicious satisfac 
tion on his haggard face. 

Shrowl withdrew into the kitchen, closed the door, and, 
placing the torn pieces of the letter together on the dresser, 
applied himself, with the coolest deliberation, to the business 
of reading it. When he had gone slowly and carefully 
through it, from the address at the beginning to the name at 
the end, he scratched reflectively for a little while at his rag 
ged beard, then folded the letter up carefully and put it in 
his pocket. 

" I ll have another look at it later in the day," he thought 
to himself, tearing off a piece of an old newspaper to light 
the fire with. " It strikes me, just at present, that there 
may be better things done with this letter than burning 
it." 

Resolutely abstaining from taking the letter out of his 
pocket again until all the duties of the household for that 
day had been duly performed, Shrowl lit the fire, occupied 
the morning in making and baking the bread, and patiently 
took his turn afterward at digging in the kitchen garden. 
It was four o clock in the afternoon before he felt himself at 
liberty to think of his private affairs, and to venture on re 
tiring into solitude with the object of secretly looking over 
the letter once more. 

A second perusal of Doctor Chennery s unlucky applica 
tion to Mr. Treverton helped to confirm Shrowl in his resolu 
tion not to destroy the letter. With great pains and perse 
verance, and much incidental scratching at his beard, he con 
trived to make himself master of three distinct points in it, 
which stood out, in his estimation, as possessing prominent 
and serious importance. 

The first point which he contrived to establish clearly in 
his mind was that the person who signed the name of Rob- 
ert Chennery was desirous of examining a plan, or printed 
account, of the north side of the interior of a certain old 
house in Cornwall, called Porthgenna Tower. The second 
point appeared to resolve itself into this, that Robert Chen 
nery believed some such plan or printed account might be 
found among the collection of books belonging to Mr. Trev 
erton. The third point was that this same Robert Chennery 
would receive the loan of the plan or printed account as one 



THE DEAD SECRET. 233 

of the greatest favors that could be conferred on him. Med 
itating on the latter fact, with an eye exclusively fixed on 
the contemplation of his own interests, Shrowl arrived at the 
conclusion that it might be well worth his while, in a pe 
cuniary point of view, to try if he could not privately place 
himself in a position to oblige Robert Chennery by search 
ing in secret among his master s books. " It might be worth 
a five-pound note to me, if I managed it well," thought 
Shrowl, putting the letter back in his pocket again, and as 
cending the stairs thoughtfully to the lumber-rooms at the 
top of the house. 

These rooms were two in number, were entirely unfur 
nished, and were littered all over with the rare collection of 
books which had once adorned the library at Porthgenna 
Tower. Covered with dust, and scattered in all directions 
and positions over the floor, lay hundreds and hundreds of 
volumes, cast out of their packing-cases as coals are cast out 
of their sacks into a cellar. Ancient books, which students 
would have treasured as priceless, lay in chaotic equality of 
neglect side by side with modern publications whose chief 
merit was the beauty of the binding by which they were in 
closed. Into this wilderness of scattered volumes Shrowl 
now wandered, fortified by the supreme self-possession of ig 
norance, to search resolutely for one particular book, with no 
other light to direct him than the faint glimmer of the two 
guiding words Porthgenna Tower. Having got them firmly 
fixed in his mind, his next object was to search until he 
found them printed on the first page of any one of the hun 
dreds of volumes that lay around him. This was, for the 
time being, emphatically his business in life, and there he 
now stood, in the largest of the two attics, doggedly pre 
pared to do it. 

lie cleared away space enough w T ith his feet to enable him 
to sit down comfortably on the floor, and then began to look 
over all the books that lay within arm s-length of him. Odd 
volumes of rare editions of the classics, odd volumes of the 
English historians, odd volumes of plays by the Elizabethan 
dramatists, books of travel, books of sermons, books of jests, 
books of natural history, books of sport, turned up in quaint 
and rapid succession ; but no book containing on the title- 
page the words "Porthgenna Tower rewarded the search- 



234 THE DEAD SECRET. 

ing industry of Shrowl for the first ten minutes after he had 
sat himself down on the floor. 

Before removing to another position, and contending with 
a fresh accumulation of literary lumber, he paused and con 
sidered a little with himself, whether there might not be 
some easier and more orderly method than any he had yet 
devised of working his way through the scattered mass of 
volumes which yet remained to be examined. The result of 
his reflections was that it would be less confusing to him if 
lie searched through the books in all parts of the room indif 
ferently, regulating his selection of them solely by their va 
rious sizes; disposing of all the largest to begin with; then, 
after stowing them away together, proceeding to the next 
largest, and so going on until he came down at last to the 
pocket volumes. Accordingly, he cleared away another mor 
sel of vacant space near the wall, and then, trampling over 
the books as coolly as if they were so many clods of earth 
on a ploughed field, picked out the largest of all the volumes 
that lay on the floor. 

It was an atlas ; Shrowl turned over the maps, reflected, 
shook his head, and removed the volume to the vacant space 
which he had cleared close to the wall. 

The next largest book was a magnificently bound col 
lection of engraved portraits of distinguished characters. 
Shrowl saluted the distinguished characters with a grunt of 
Gothic disapprobation, and carried them off to keep the atlas 
company against the wall. 

The third largest book lay under several others. It pro 
jected a little at one end, and it was bound in scarlet mo 
rocco. In another position, or bound in a quieter color, it 
would probably have escaped notice. Shrowl drew it out 
with some difficulty, opened it with a portentous frown of 
distrust, looked at the title-page and suddenly slapped his 
thigh with a great oath of exultation. There were the very 
two words of which he was in search, staring him in the face, 
as it were, with all the emphasis of the largest capital letters. 

lie took a step toward the door to make sure that his mas 
ter was not moving in the hous"e ; then checked himself and 
turned back. " What do I care," thought Shrowl, " whether 
he sees me or not? If it comes to a tustle betwixt us which 
is to have his own way, I know who s master and who s 



THE DEAD SECRET. 235 

servant in the house by this time." Composing himself with 
that reflection, he turned to the first leaf of the book, with 
the intention of looking it over carefully, page by page, from 
beginning to end. 

The first leaf was a blank. The second leaf had an in 
scription written at the top of it, in faded ink, which con 
tained these words and initials: "Rare. Only six copies 
printed. J. A. T." Below, on the middle of the leaf, w r as 
the printed dedication: "To John Arthur Treverton, Es 
quire, Lord of the Manor of Porthgenna, One of his Majes 
ty s Justices of the Peace, F.R.S., etc., etc., etc., this work, in 
which an attempt is made to describe the ancient and hon 
ored Mansion of his Ancestors There were many more 
lines, filled to bursting with all the largest and most obse 
quious words to be found in the dictionary; but Shrowl 
wisely abstained from giving himself the trouble of reading 
them, and turned over at once to the title-page. 

There were the all-important words: "The History and 
Antiquities of PORTIIGEXXA TOWER. From the period of 
its first erection to the present time ; comprising interesting 
genealogical particulars relating to the Treverton family ; 
with an inquiry into the Origin of Gothic Architecture, and 
a few thoughts on the Theory of Fortification after the pe 
riod of the Norman Conquest. By the Reverend Job Dark, 
D.D., Rector of Porthgenna. The whole adorned with Por 
traits, Views, and Plans, executed in the highest style of 
art. Not published. Printed by Spaldock and Grimes, 
Truro, 1734." 

That was the title-page. The next leaf contained an en 
graved view of Porthgenna Tower from the West. Then 
came several pages devoted to the Origin of Gothic Archi 
tecture. Then more pages, explaining the Norman Theory 
of Fortification. These were succeeded by another engrav 
ing Porthgenna Tower from the East. After that followed 
more reading, under the title of The Treverton Family ; and 
then came the third engraving Porthgenna Tower from 
the North. Shrowl paused there, and looked with interest 
at the leaf opposite the print. It only announced more read 
ing still, about the Erection of the Mansion ; and this was 
succeeded by engravings from family portraits in the gallery 
at Porthgenna. Placing his left thumb between the leaves 



236 THE DEAD SECRET. 

to mark the place, Shrowl impatiently turned to the end of 
the book, to see what he could find there. The last leaf con 
tained a plan of the stables ; the leaf before that presented a 
plan of the north garden ; and on the next leaf, turning back 
ward, was the very thing described in Robert Chennery s 
letter a plan of the interior arrangement of the north side 
of the house ! 

Shrowl s first impulse on making this discovery was to 
carry the book away to the safest hiding-place he could find 
for it, preparatory to secretly offering it for sale when the 
messenger called the next morning for an answer to the let 
ter. A little reflection, however, convinced him that a pro 
ceeding of this sort bore a dangerously close resemblance to 
the act of thieving, and might get him into trouble if the 
person with whom he desired to deal asked him any prelim 
inary questions touching his right to the volume which he 
wanted to dispose of. The only alternative that remained 
was to make the best copy he could of the Plan, and to traf 
fic with" that, as a document which the most scrupulous per 
son in the world need not hesitate to purchase. 

Resolving, after some consideration, to undergo the trouble 
of making the copy rather than run the risk of purloining the 
book, Shrowl descended to the kitchen, took from one of the 
drawers of the dresser an old stump of a pen, a bottle of ink, 
and a crumpled half-sheet of dirty letter-paper, and returned 
to the garret to copy the Plan as he best might. It was of 
the simplest kind, and it occupied but a small portion of the 
page ; yet it presented to his eyes a hopelessly involved and 
intricate appearance w T hen he now examined it for the sec 
ond time. 

The rooms were represented by rows of small squares, with 
>namcs neatly printed inside them ; and the positions of doors, 
staircases, and passages w r ere indicated by parallel lines of 
various lengths and breadths. After much cogitation, frown 
ing, and pulling at his beard, it occurred to Shrowl that the 
easiest method of copying the Plan would be to cover it with 
the letter-paper which, though hardly half the size of the 
page, was large enough to spread over the engraving on it 
and then to trace the lines which he saw through the paper 
as carefully as he could with his pen and ink. He puffed 
and snorted and grumbled, and got red in the face over his 



THE DEAD SECRET. 237 

task ; but he accomplished it at last bating certain draw 
backs in the shape of blots and smears in a sufficiently cred 
itable manner ; then stopped to let the ink dry and to draw 
his breath freely, before he attempted to do any thing more. 

The next obstacle to be overcome consisted in the diffi 
culty of copying the names of the rooms, which were printed 
inside the squares. Fortunately for Shrowl, who was one of 
the clumsiest of mankind in the use of the pen, none of the 
names were very long. As it was, he found the greatest dif 
ficulty in writing them in sufficiently small characters to fit 
into the squares. One name in particular that of the Myr 
tle Room presented combinations of letters, in the word 
"Myrtle," which tried his patience and his fingers sorely 
when he attempted to reproduce them. Indeed, the result, 
in this case, when he had done his best, was so illegible, even 
to his eyes, that he wrote the word over again in larger char 
acters at the top of the page, and connected it by a wavering 
line with the square which represented the Myrtle Room. 
The same accident happened to him in two other instances, 
and was remedied in the same way. With the rest of the 
names, however, he succeeded better; and, when he had 
finally completed the business of transcription by writing 
the title, " Plan of the North Side," his copy presented, on 
the whole, a more respectable appearance than might have 
been anticipated. After satisfying himself of its accuracy by 
a careful comparison of it with the original, he folded it up 
along with Doctor Chennery s letter, and deposited it in his 
pocket with a hoarse gasp of relief and a grim smile of satis 
faction. 

The next morning the garden door of the cottage presented 
itself to the public eye in the totally new aspect of standing 
hospitably ajar; and one of the bare posts had the advantage 
of being embellished by the figure of Shrowl, who leaned 
against it easily, with his legs crossed, his hands in his pock 
ets, and his pipe in his mouth, looking out for the return of 
the messenger who had delivered Doctor Chennery s letter 
the day before. 



238 THE DEAD SECRET. 



CHAPTER III. 

APPROACHIXG THE PRECIPICE. 

TRAVELING from London to Porthgenna, Mr. and Mrs. 
Frankland had stopped, on the ninth of May, at the West 
Winston station. On the eleventh of June they left it again 
to continue their journey to Cornwall. On the thirteenth, 
after resting two nights upon the road, they arrived toward 
the evening at Porthgenna Tower. 

There had been storm and rain all the morning; it had 
lulled toward the afternoon, and at the hour when they 
reached the house the wind had dropped, a thick white fog 
hid the sea from view, and sudden show r ers fell drearily from 
time to time over the sodden land. Not even a solitary idler 
from the village was hanging about the west terrace as the 
carriage containing Mr. and Mrs. Frankland, the baby, and 
the two servants drove up to the house. 

No one was w r aiting with the door open to receive the trav 
elers; for all hope of their arriving on that day had been 
given up, and the ceaseless thundering of the surf, as the 
stormy sea surged in on the beach beneath, drowned the roll 
of the carriage- wheels over the terrace road. The driver was 
obliged to leave his seat and ring at the bell for admittance. 
A minute or more elapsed before the door was opened. With 
the rain falling sullen and steady on the roof of the carriage, 
with the raw dampness of the atmosphere penetrating through 
all coverings and defenses, with the booming of the surf 
sounding threateningly near in the dense obscurity of the 
fog, the young couple waited for admission to their own 
home, as strangers might have waited who had called at an 
ill-chosen time. 

When the door was opened at last, the master and mis 
tress, whom the servants would have welcomed with the 
proper congratulations on any other occasion, Avere now re 
ceived with the proper apologies instead. Mr. Munder, Mrs. 
Pentreath, Betsey, and Mr. Frankland s man all crowded to 
gether in the hall, and all begged pardon confusedly for not 



THE DEAD SECKET. 239 

having been ready at the door when the carriage drove up. 
The appearance of the baby changed the conventional ex 
cuses of the housekeeper and the maid into conventional ex 
pressions of admiration ; but the men remained grave and 
gloomy, and spoke of the miserable weather apologetically, 
as if the rain and the fog had been of their own making. 

The reason for their persistency in dwelling on this one 
dreary topic came out while Mr. and Mrs. Frankland were 
being conducted up the west staircase. The storm of the 
morning had been fatal to three of the Porthgenna fishermen, 
who had been lost with their boat at sea, and whose deaths 
had thrown the whole village into mourning. The servants 
had done nothing but talk of the catastrophe ever since the 
intelligence of it had reached them early in the afternoon ; 
and Mr. Munder now thought it his duty to explain that the 
absence of the villagers, on the occasion of the arrival of his 
master and mistress, was entirely attributable to the effect 
produced among the little community by the wreck of the 
fishing-boat. Under any less lamentable circumstances the 
west terrace would have been crowded, and the appearance 
of the carriage would have been welcomed with cheers. 

" Lenny, I almost wish we had waited a little longer before 
we came here," whispered Rosamond, nervously pressing her 
husband s arm. " It is very dreary and disheartening to re 
turn to my first home on such a day as this. That story of 
the poor fishermen is a sad story, love, to welcome me back 
to the place of my birth. Let us send the first thing to-mor 
row morning, and see what we can do for the poor helpless 
women and children. I shall not feel easy in my mind, after 
hearing that story, till we have done something to comfort 
them." 

" I trust you will approve of the repairs, ma am," said the 
housekeeper, pointing to the staircase which led to the second 
story. 

" The repairs ?" said Rosamond, absently. " Repairs ! I 
never hear the word now, without thinking of the north 
rooms, and of the plans we devised for getting my poor dear 
father to live in them. Mrs. Pentreath, I have a host of ques 
tions to ask you and Mr. Munder about all the extraordinary 
things that happened when the mysterious lady and the in 
comprehensible foreigner came here. But tell me first this 

L2 



240 THE DEAD SECRET. 

is the west front, I suppose ? how far are we from the north 
rooms? I mean, how long would it take us to get to them, 
if we wanted to go now to that part of the house ?" 

" Oh, dear me, ma am, not five minutes !" answered Mrs. 
Pentreath. 

" Not five minutes !" repeated Rosamond, whispering to 
her husband again. "Do you hear that, Lenny? In five 
minutes we might be in the Myrtle Room !" 

" Yet," said Mr. Frankland, smiling, " in our present state 
of ignorance, we are just as far from it as if we were at West 
Winston still." 

"I can t think that, Lenny. It may be only my fancy, but 
now we are on the spot I feel as if we had driven the mys 
tery into its last hiding-place. We are actually in the house 
that holds the Secret ; and nothing will persuade me that we 
are not half-way already toward finding it out. But don t 
let us stop on this cold landing. Which way are we to go 
next ?" 

" This way, ma am," said Mr. Munder, seizing the first op 
portunity of placing himself in a prominent position. " There 
is a fire in the drawing-room. Will you allow me the honor 
of leading and conducting you, Sir, to the apartment in ques 
tion ?" he added, officiously stretching out his hand to Mr. 
Frankland. 

" Certainly not !" interposed Rosamond sharply. She had 
noticed with her usual quickness of observation that Mr. 
Munder wanted the delicacy of feeling which ought to have 
restrained him from staring curiously at his blind master in 
her presence, and she was unfavorably disposed toward him 
in consequence. " Wherever the apartment in question may 
happen to be," she continued with satirical emphasis, " I will 
lead Mr. Frankland to it, if you please. If you want to make 
yourself useful, you had better go on before us, and open the 
door." 

Outwardly crest-fallen, but inwardly indignant, Mr. Mun 
der led the way to the drawing-room. The fire burned bright 
ly, the old-fashioned furniture displayed itself to the most 
picturesque advantage, the paper on the walls looked com 
fortably mellow, the carpet, faded as it was, felt soft and 
warm underfoot. Rosamond led her husband to an easy chair 
by the fireside, and began to feel at home for the first time. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 241 

"This looks really comfortable," she said. "When we 
have shut out that dreary white fog, and the candles are lit, 
and the tea is on the table, we shall have nothing in the 
world to complain of. You enjoy this nice warm atmosphere, 
don t you, Lenny ? There is a piano in the room, my dear ; 
I can play to you in the evening at Porthgenna just as I 
used in London. Nurse, sit down and make yourself and the 
baby as comfortable as you can. Before we take our bonnets 
off, I must go away with Mrs. Pentreath and see about the 
bedrooms. What is your name, you very rosy, good-natured 
looking girl ? Betsey, is it ? Well, then, Betsey, suppose 
you go down and get the tea ; and we shall like you all the 
better if you can contrive to bring us some cold meat with 
it." Giving her orders in those good-humored terms, and not 
noticing that her husband looked a little uneasy while she 
was talking so familiarly to a servant, Rosamond left the 
room in company with Mrs. Pentreath. 

When she returned, her face and manner were altered: she 
looked and spoke seriously and quietly. 

" I hope I have arranged every thing for the best, Lenny," 
she said. " The airiest and largest room, Mrs. Pentreath tells 
me, is the room in which my mother died. But I thought we 
had better not make use of that : I felt as if it chilled and 
saddened me only to look at it. Farther on, along the pas 
sage, there is a room that was my nursery. I almost fancied, 
when Mrs. Pentreath told me she had heard I used to sleep 
there, that I remembered the pretty little arched door-way 
leading into the second room the night-nursery it used to 
be called in former days. I have ordered the fire to be lit 
there, and the beds to be made. There is a third room on 
the right hand, which communicates with the day-nursery. 
I think we might manage to establish ourselves very com 
fortably in the three rooms if you felt no objection though 
they are not so large or so grandly furnished as the company 
bedrooms. I will change the arrangement, if you like but 
the house looks rather lonesome and dreary, just at first and 
my heart warms to the old nursery and I think we might 
at least try it, to begin with, don t you, Lenny?" 

Mr. Frankland was quite of his wife s opinion, and was 
ready to accede to any domestic arrangements that she might 
think fit to make. While he was assuring her of this the tea 



242 THE DEAD SECRET. 

came up, and the sight of it helped to restore Rosamond to 
her usual spirits. When the meal was over, she occupied 
herself in seeing the baby comfortably established for the 
night, in the room on the right hand which communicated 
with the day-nursery. That maternal duty performed, she 
came back to her husband in the drawing-room; and the con 
versation between them turned as it almost always turned 
now when they were alone on the two perplexing subjects 
of Mrs. Jazeph and the Myrtle Room. 

" I wish it was not night," said Rosamond. " I should like 
to begin exploring at once. Mind, Lenny, you must be with 
me in all my investigations. I lend you my eyes, and you 
give me your advice. You must never lose patience, and 
never tell me that you can be of no use. How I do wish we 
were starting on our voyage of discovery at this very mo 
ment ! But we may make inquiries, at any rate," she con 
tinued, ringing the bell. " Let us have the housekeeper and 
the steward up, and try if we can t make them tell us some 
thing more than they told us in their letter." 

The bell was answered by Betsey. Rosamond desired that 
Mr. Munder and Mrs. Pentreath might be sent up stairs. 
Betsey having heard Mrs. Frankland express her intention 
of questioning the housekeeper and the steward, guessed why 
they were wanted, and smiled mysteriously. 

" Did you see any thing of those strange visitors who be 
haved so oddly?" asked Rosamond, detecting the smile. 
" Yes, I am sure you did. Tell us what you saw. We want 
to hear every thing that happened every thing, doAvn to the 
smallest trifle." 

Appealed to in these direct terms, Betsey contrived, with 
much circumlocution and confusion, to relate what her own 
personal experience had been of the proceedings of Mrs. Ja 
zeph and her foreign companion. When she had done, Rosa 
mond stopped her on her way to the door by asking this 
question 

" You say the lady was found lying in a fainting-fit at the 
top of the stairs. Have you any notion, Betsey, why she 
fainted ?" 

The servant hesitated. 

" Come ! come !" said Rosamond. " You have some notion, 
I can see. Tell us what it is." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 243 

" I m afraid you will be angry with me, ma am," said Bet 
sey, expressing embarrassment by drawing lines slowly with 
her forefinger on a table at her side. 

" Nonsense ! I shall only be angry with you if you won t 
speak. Why do you think the lady fainted ?" 

Betsey drew a very long line with her embarrassed fore 
finger, wiped it afterward on her apron, and answered 

" I think she fainted, if you please, ma am, because she see 
the ghost." 

" The ghost ! What ! is there a ghost in the house ? Len 
ny, here is a romance that we never expected. What sort 
of ghost is it ? Let us have the whole story." 

The whole story, as Betsey told it, was not of a nature to 
afford her hearers any extraordinary information, or to keep 
them very long in suspense. The ghost was a lady who had 
been at a remote period the wife of one of the owners of 
Porthgenna Tower, and who had been guilty of deceiving 
her husband in some way unknown. She had been con 
demned in consequence to walk about the north rooms as 
long as ever the walls of them held together. She had long, 
curling, light-brown hair, and very white teeth, and a dimple 
in each cheek, and was altogether " awful beautiful " to look 
at. Her approach was heralded to any mortal creature 
who was unfortunate enough to fall in her way by the blow 
ing of a cold wind, and nobody w T ho had once felt that 
wind had the slightest chance of ever feeling warm again. 
That was all Betsey knew about the ghost ; and it was 
in her opinion enough to freeze a person s blood only to 
think of it. 

Rosamond smiled, then looked grave again. " I wish you 
could have told us a little more," she said. " But, as you can 
not, we must try Mrs. Pentreath and Mr. Munder next. Send 
them up here, if you please, Betsey, as soon as you get down 
stairs." 

The examination of the housekeeper and the steward led 
to no result whatever. Nothing more than they had already 
communicated in their letter to Mrs. Frankland could be ex 
tracted from either of them. Mr. Munder s dominant idea 
was that the foreigner had entered the doors of Porthgenna 
Tower with felonious ideas on the subject of the family plate. 
Mrs. Pentreath concurred in that opinion, and mentioned, in 



244 THE DEAD SECRET. 

connection with it, her own private impression that the lady 
in the quiet dress was an unfortunate person who had escaped 
from a mad -house. As to giving a word of advice, or suggest 
ing a plan for solving the mystery, neither the housekeeper 
nor the steward appeared to think that the rendering of any 
assistance of that sort lay at all within their province. They 
took their own practical view of the suspicious conduct of 
the two strangers, and no mortal power could persuade them 
to look an inch beyond it. 

" Oh, the stupidity, the provoking, impenetrable, preten 
tious stupidity of respectable English servants !" exclaimed 
Rosamond, when she and her husband were alone again. 
"No help, Lenny, to be hoped for from either of those two 
people. We have nothing to trust to now but the examina 
tion of the house to-morrow ; and that resource may fail us, 
like all the rest. What can Doctor Chennery be about ? 
Why did w r e not hear from him before we left West Wins 
ton ?" 

"Patience, Rosamond, patience. We shall see what the 
post brings to-morrow." 

" Pray don t talk about patience, dear ! My stock of that 
virtue was never a very large one, and it was all exhausted 
ten days ago, at least. Oh, the weeks and weeks I have been 
vainly asking myself Why should Mrs. Jazeph warn me 
against going into the Myrtle Room? Is she afraid of my 
discovering a crime ? or afraid of my tumbling through the 
floor ? What did she want to do in the room, when she made 
that attempt to get into it ? Why, in the name of wonder, 
should she know something about this house that I never 
knew, that my father never knew, that nobody else " 

" Rosamond !" cried Mr. Frankland, suddenly changing 
color, and starting in his chair "I think I can guess who 
Mrs. Jazeph is !" 

" Good gracious, Lenny ! What do you mean ?" 

" Something in those last words of yours started the idea 
in my mind the instant you spoke. Do you remember, when 
we were staying at St. Swithin s-on-Sea, and talking about 
the chances for and against our prevailing on your father to 
live with us here do you remember, Rosamond, telling me 
at that time of certain unpleasant associations which he 
had with the house, and mentioning among them the myste- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 245 

rious disappearance of a servant on the morning of your 
mother s death ?" 

Rosamond turned pale at the question. " How came we 
never to think of that before ?" she said. 

" You told me," pursued Mr. Frankland, " that this servant 
left a strange letter behind her, in which she confessed that 
your mother had charged her with the duty of telling a secret 
to your father a secret that she was afraid to divulge, and 
that she was afraid of being questioned about. I am right, 
am I not, in stating those two reasons as the reasons she gave 
for her disappearance ?" 

" Quite right." 

" And your father never heard of her again ?" 

" Never !" 

" It is a bold guess to make, Rosamond, but the impression 
is strong on my mind that, on the day when Mrs. Jazeph 
came into your room at West Winston, you and that servant 
met, and she knew it !" 

"And the Secret, dear the Secret she was afraid to tell 
my father?" 

" Must be in some way connected with the Myrtle Room." 

Rosamond said nothing in answer. She rose from her 
chair, and began to walk agitatedly up and down the room. 
Hearing the rustle of her dress, Leonard called her to him, 
and, taking her hand, laid his fingers on her pulse, and then 
lifted them for a moment to her cheek. 

"I wish I had waited until to-morrow morning before I 
told you my idea about Mrs. Jazeph," he said. "I have 
agitated you to no purpose whatever, and have spoiled your 
chance of a good night s rest." 

" No, no ! nothing of the kind. Oh, Lenny, how this guess 
of yours adds to the interest the fearful, breathless interest 
we have in tracing that woman, and in finding out the Myr 
tle Room. Do you think ?" 

" I have done with thinking for the night, my dear ; and 
you must have done with it too. We have said more than 
enough about Mrs. Jazeph already. Change the subject, and 
I will talk of any thing else you please." 

"It is not so easy to change the subject," said Rosamond, 
pouting, and moving away to walk up and down the room 



246 THE DEAD SECRET. 

"Then let us change the place, and make it easier that 
way. I know you think me the most provokingly obstinate 
man in the world, but there is reason in my obstinacy, and 
you will acknowledge as much when you awake to-morrow 
morning refreshed by a good night s rest. Come, let us 
give our anxieties a holiday. Take me into one of the other 
rooms, and let me try if I can guess what it is like by touch 
ing the furniture." 

The reference to his blindness which the last words con 
tained brought Rosamond td his side in a moment. " You 
always know best," she said, putting her arm round his neck 
and kissing him. " I was looking cross, love, a minute ago, 
but the clouds are all gone now. We will change the scene, 
and explore some other room, as you propose." 

She paused, her eyes suddenly sparkled, her color rose, and 
she smiled to herself as if some new fancy had that instant 
crossed her mind. 

"Lenny, I will take you where you shall touch a very re 
markable piece of furniture indeed," she resumed, leading 
him to the door while she spoke. " We will see if you can 
tell me at once what it is like. You must not be impatient, 
mind ; and you must promise to touch nothing till you feel 
me guiding your hand." 

She drew him after her along the passage, opened the door 
of the room in which the baby had been put to bed, made a 
sign to the nurse to be silent, and, leading Leonard up to the 
cot, guided his hand down gently, so as to let the tips of his 
fingers touch the child s cheek. 

"There, Sir!" she cried, her face beaming with happiness 
as she saw the sudden flush of surprise and pleasure which 
changed her husband s natural quiet, subdued expression in 
an instant. " What do you say to that piece of furniture ? 
Is it a chair, or a table ? Or is it the most precious thing in 
all the house, in all Cornwall, in all England, in all the world ? 
Kiss it, and see what it is a bust of a baby by a sculptor, 
or a living cherub by your wife !" She turned, laughing, to 
the nurse "Hannah, you look so serious that I am sure you 
must be hungry. Have you had your supper yet?" The 
woman smiled, and answered that she had arranged to go 
down stairs, as soon as one of the servants could relieve her 
in taking care of the child. " Go at once," said Rosamond. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 247 

" I will stop here and look after the baby. Get your supper, 
and come back again in half an hour." 

When the nurse had left the room, Rosamond placed a 
chair for Leonard by the side of the cot, and seated herself 
on a low stool at his knees. Her variable disposition seemed 
to change again when she did this ; her face grew thought 
ful, her eyes softened, as they turned, now on her husband, 
now on the bed in which the child was sleeping by his side. 
After a minute or two of silence, she took one of his hands, 
placed it on his knee, and laid her cheek gently down on it. 

" Lenny," she said, rather sadly, " I wonder whether we are 
any of us capable of feeling perfect happiness in this world ?" 

"What makes you ask that question, my dear?" 

" I fancy that I could feel perfect happiness, and yet 

"And yet what?" 

" And yet it seems as if, with all my blessings, that bless 
ing was never likely to be granted to me. I should be per 
fectly happy now but for one little thing. I suppose you 
can t guess what that thing is ?" 

" I would rather you told me, Rosamond." 

"Ever since our child was born, love, I have had a little 
aching at the heart especially when we are all three to 
gether, as we are now a little sorrow that I can t quite put 
away from me on your account." 

" On my account ! Lift up your head, Rosamond, and 
come nearer to me. I feel something on my hand which 
tells me that you are crying." 

She rose directly, and laid her face close to his. "My own 
love," she said, clasping her arms fast round him. " My own 
heart s darling, you have never seen our child." 

" Yes, Rosamond, I see him with your eyes." 

" Oh, Lenny ! I tell you every thing I can I do my best 
to lighten the cruel, cruel darkness which shuts you out from 
that lovely little face lying so close to you ! But can I tell 
you how he looks when he first begins to take notice? can I 
tell you all the thousand pretty things he will do when he 
first tries to talk? God has been very merciful to us but, 
oh, how much more heavily the sense of your affliction weighs 
on me now when I am more to you than your wife now when 
I am the mother of your child !" 

"And yet that affliction ought to weigh lightly on your 



248 THE DEAD SECRET. 

spirits, Rosamond, for you have made it weigh lightly on 
mine." 

" Have I ? Really and truly, have I ? It is something 
noble to live for, Lenny, if I can live for that ! It is some 
comfort to hear you say, as you said just now, that you see 
with my eyes. They shall always serve you oh, always ! 
always ! as faithfully as if they were your own. The veriest 
trifle of a visible thing that I look at with any interest, you 
shall as good as look at too. I might have had my own lit 
tle harmless secrets, dear, with another husband; but with 
you to have even so much as a thought in secret seems like 
taking the basest, the crudest advantage of your blindness. 
I do love you so, Lenny ! I am so much fonder of you now 
than I was when we were first married I never thought I 
should be, but I am. You are so much handsomer to me, so 
much cleverer to me, so much more precious to me in every 
way. But I am always telling you that, am I not ? Do 
you get tired of hearing me ? No ? Are you sure of that ? 
Very, very, very sure?" She stopped, and looked at him 
earnestly, with a smile on her lips, and the tears still glis 
tening in her eyes. Just then the child stirred a little in 
his cot, and drew her attention away. She arranged the bed 
clothes over him, watched him in silence for a little while, 
then sat down again on the stool at Leonard s feet. " Baby 
has turned his face quite round toward you now," she said. 
"Shall I tell you exactly how he looks, and what his bed is 
like, and how the room is furnished ?" 

Without waiting for an answer, she began to describe the 
child s appearance and position with the marvelous minute 
ness of a woman s observation. While she proceeded, her 
elastic spirits recovered themselves, and its naturally bright 
happy expression re-appeared on her face. By the time the 
nurse returned to her post, Rosamond was talking with all 
her accustomed vivacity, and amusing her husband with all 
her accustomed success. 

When they went back to the drawing-room, she opened 
the piano and sat down to play. "I must give you your 
usual evening concert, Lenny," she said, " or I shall be talk 
ing again on the forbidden subject of the Myrtle Room." 

She played some of Mr. Frankland s favorite airs, with a 
certain union of feeling and fancifulness in her execution of 



THE DEAD SECRET. 249 

the music, which seemed to blend the charm of her own dis 
position with the charm of the melodies which sprang into life 
under her touch. After playing through the airs she could 
remember most easily, she ended with the Last Waltz of Web 
er. It was Leonard s favorite, and it was always reserved on 
that account to grace the close of the evening s performance. 

She lingered longer than usual over the last plaintive 
notes of the waltz; then suddenly left the piano, and has 
tened across the room to the fire-place. 

"Surely it has turned much colder within the last minute 
or two," she said, kneeling down on the rug, and holding her 
face and hands over the fire. 

"Has it?" returned Leonard. "I don t feel any change." 

"Perhaps I have caught cold," said Rosamond. " Or per 
haps," she added, laughing rather uneasily, "the wind that 
goes before the ghostly lady of the north rooms has been 
blowing over me. I certainly felt something like a sudden 
chill, Lenny, while I was playing the last notes of Weber." 

" Nonsense, Rosamond. You are overfatigued and over 
excited. Tell your maid to make you some hot wine and 
water, and lose no time in getting to bed." 

Rosamond cowered closer over the fire. " It s lucky I am 
not superstitious," she said, "or I might fancy that I was 
predestined to see the ghost." 



CHAPTER IV. 

STANDING ON THE BRINK. 

THE first night at Porthgenna passed without the slightest 
noise or interruption of any kind. No ghost, or dream of a 
ghost, disturbed the soundness of Rosamond s slumbers. She 
awoke in her usual spirits and her usual health, and was out 
in the west garden before breakfast. 

The sky was cloudy, and the wind veered about capricious 
ly to all the points of the compass. In the course of her 
walk Rosamond met with the gardener, and asked him what 
he thought about the weather. The man replied that it 
might rain again before noon, but that, unless he was very 
much mistaken, it was going to turn to heat in the course of 
the next four-and-twenty hours. 



250 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Pray, did you ever hear of a room on the north side of our 
old house called the Myrtle Room?" inquired Rosamond. 
She had resolved, on rising that morning, not to lose a chance 
of making the all -important discovery for want of asking 
questions of every body in the neighborhood ; and she began 
with the gardener accordingly. 

" I never heard tell of it, ma am," said the man. " But it s 
a likely name enough, considering how the myrtles do grow 
in these parts." 

" Are there any myrtles growing at the north side of the 
house ?" asked Rosamond, struck with the idea of tracing the 
mysterious room by searching for it outside the building in 
stead of inside. " I mean close to the walls," she added, see 
ing the man look puzzled ; " under the windows, you know ?" 

"I never see any thing under the windows in my time but 
weeds and rubbish," replied the gardener. 

Just then the breakfast-bell rang. Rosamond returned to 
the house, determined to explore the north garden, and if she 
found any relic of a bed of myrtles to mark the window above 
it, and to have the room which that window lighted opened 
immediately. She confided this new scheme to her husband. 
He complimented her on her ingenuity, but confessed that 
he had no great hope of any discoveries being made out of 
doors, after what the gardener had said about the weeds and 
rubbish. 

As soon as breakfast was over, Rosamond rang the bell to 
order the gardener to be in attendance, and to say that the 
keys of the north rooms would be wanted. The summons 
was answered by Mr. Frankland s servant, who brought np 
with him the morning s supply of letters, which the postman 
had just delivered. Rosamond turned them over eagerly, 
pounced on one with an exclamation of delight, and said to 
her husband "The Long Becklcy postmark! News from 
the vicar, at last !" 

She opened the letter and ran her eye over it then sud 
denly dropped it in her lap with her face all in a glow. "Len 
ny !" she exclaimed, " there is news here that is positively 
enough to turn one s head. I declare the vicar s letter has 
quite taken away my breath !" 

" Read it," said Mr. Franjdand ; " pray read it at once." 

Rosamond complied with the request in a very faltering, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 251 

unsteady voice. Doctor Chennery began his letter by an 
nouncing that his application to Andrew Treverton had re 
mained unanswered; but he added that it had, nevertheless, 
produced results which no one could possibly have antici 
pated. For information on the subject of those results, he 
referred Mr. and Mrs. Frankland to a copy subjoined of a 
communication marked private, which he had received from 
his man of business in London. 

The communication contained a detailed report of an inter 
view which had taken place between Mr. Treverton s servant 
and the messenger who had called for an answer to Doctor 
Chennery s letter. Shrowl, it appeared, had opened the inter 
view by delivering his master s message, had then produced 
the vicar s torn letter and the copy of the Plan, and had an 
nounced his readiness to part with the latter for the consider 
ation of a five-pound note. The messenger had explained 
that he had no power to treat for the document, and had ad 
vised Mr. Treverton s servant to wait on Doctor Chennery s 
agent. After some hesitation, Shrowl had decided to do this, 
on pretense of going out on an errand had seen the agent 
had been questioned about how he became possessed of 
the copy and, finding that there would be no chance of dis 
posing of it unless he answered all inquiries, had related the 
circumstances under which the copy had been made. After 
hearing his statement, the agent had engaged to apply im 
mediately for instructions to Doctor Chennery ; and had writ 
ten accordingly, mentioning in a postcript that he had seen 
the transcribed Plan, and had ascertained that it really ex 
hibited the positions of doors, staircases, and rooms, with the 
names attached to them. 

Resuming his own letter, Doctor Chennery proceeded to 
say that he must now leave it entirely to Mr. and Mrs. Frank- 
land to decide what course they ought to adopt. He had 
already compromised himself a little in his own estimation, 
by assuming a character which really did not belong to him, 
when he made his application to Andrew Treverton ; and he 
felt he could personally venture no further in the affair, either 
by expressing an opinion or giving any advice, now that it 
had assumed such a totally new aspect. He felt quite sure 
that his young friends would arrive at the wise and the right 
decision, after they had maturely considered the matter in 



252 THE DEAD SECRET. 

all its bearings. In that conviction, he had instructed his 
man of business not to stir in the affair until he had heard 
from Mr. Frankland, and to be guided entirely by any direc 
tions which that gentleman might give. 

"Directions !" exclaimed Rosamond, crumpling up the let 
ter in a high state of excitement as soon as she had read to 
the end of it. " All the directions we have to give may be 
written in a minute and read in a second ! What in the 
world does the vicar mean by talking about mature consid 
eration ? Of course," cried Rosamond, looking, womanlike, 
straight on to the purpose she had in view, without wasting 
a thought on the means by w r hich it was to be achieved 
" Of course we give the man his five-pound note, and get the 
Plan by return of post !" 

Mr. Frankland shook his head gravely. " Quite impossi 
ble," he said. " If you think for a moment, my dear, you will 
surely see that it is out of the question to traffic with a serv 
ant for information that has been surreptitiously obtained 
from his master s library." 

" Oh, dear ! dear ! don t say that !" pleaded Rosamond, 
looking quite aghast at the view her husband took of the 
matter. "What harm are we doing, if we give the man his 
five pounds ? He has only made a copy of the Plan : he has 
not stolen any thing." 

" He has stolen information, according to my idea of it," 
said Leonard. 

"Well, but if he has," persisted Rosamond, "what harm 
does it do to his master ? In my opinion his master deserves 
to have the information stolen, for not having had the com 
mon politeness to send it to the vicar. We must have the 
Plan oh, Lenny, don t shake your head, please ! we must 
have it, you know we must ! AVhat is the use of being scru 
pulous with an old wretch (I must call him so, though he is 
my uncle) who won t conform to the commonest usages of 
society ? You can t deal with him and I am sure the vicar 
would say so, if he was here as you would with civilized 
people, or people in their senses, which every body says he is 
not. What use is the Plan of the north rooms to him? And, 
besides, if it is of any use, he has got the original ; so his in 
formation is not stolen, after all, because he has got it the 
whole time has he not, dear ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 253 

"Rosamond! Rosamond!" said Leonard, smiling at his 
wife s transparent sophistries, " you are trying to reason like 
a Jesuit." 

" I don t care who I reason like, love, as long as I get the 
Plan." 

Mr. Frankland still shook his head. Finding her argu 
ments of no avail, Rosamond wisely resorted to the imme 
morial weapon of her sex Persuasion ; using it at such close 
quarters and to such good purposes that she finally won her 
husband s reluctant consent to a species of compromise, which 
granted her leave to give directions for purchasing the copied 
Plan on one condition. 

This condition was that they should send back the Plan to 
Mr. Treverton as soon as it had served their purpose ; mak 
ing a full acknowledgment to him of the manner in which it 
had been obtained, and pleading in justification of the pro 
ceeding his own want of courtesy in withholding information, 
of no consequence in itself, which any one else in his place 
would have communicated as a matter of course. Rosamond 
tried hard to obtain the withdrawal or modification of this 
condition; but her husband s sensitive pride was not to be 
touched, on that point, with impunity, even by her light 
hand. "I have done too much violence already to my own 
convictions," he said, " and I will now do no more. If we 
are to degrade ourselves by dealing with this servant, let us 
at least prevent him from claiming us as his accomplices. 
Write in my name, Rosamond, to Doctor Chennery s man of 
business, and say that we are willing to purchase the tran 
scribed Plan on the condition that I have stated which con 
dition he will of course place before the servant in the plain 
est possible terms." 

" And suppose the servant refuses to risk losing his place, 
which he must do if he accepts your condition ?" said Ros 
amond, going rather reluctantly to the writing-table. 

" Let us not worry ourselves, my dear, by supposing any 
thing. Let us wait and hear what happens, and act accord 
ingly. When you are ready to write, tell me, and I will dic 
tate your letter on this occasion. I wish to make the vicar s 
man of business understand that we act as we do, knowing, 
in the first place, that Mr. Andrew Treverton can not be dealt 
with according to the established usages of society ; and 



254 THE DEAD SECRET. 

knowing, in the second place, that the information which his 
servant offers to us is contained in an extract from a print 
ed book, and is in no way, directly or indirectly, connected 
with Mr. Treverton s private affairs. Now that you have 
made me consent to this compromise, Rosamond, I must 
justify it as completely as possible to others as well as to 
myself." 

Seeing that his resolution was firmly settled, Rosamond 
had tact enough to abstain from saying any thing more. The 
letter was written exactly as Leonard dictated it. "When it 
had been placed in the post-bag, and when the other letters 
of the morning had been read and answered, Mr. Frankland 
reminded his wife of the intention she had expressed at 
breakfast-time of visiting the north garden, and requested 
that she would take him there with her. He candidly ac 
knowledged that, since he had been made acquainted with 
Doctor Chennery s letter, he would give five times the sum 
demanded by Shrowl for the copy of the Plan if the Myrtle 
Room could be discovered, without assistance from any one, 
before the letter to the vicar s man of business was put into 
the post. Nothing would give him so much pleasure, he said, 
as to be able to throw it into the fire, and to send a plain re 
fusal to treat for the Plan in its place. 

They w r ent into the north garden, and there Rosamond s 
own eyes convinced her that she had not the slightest chance 
of discovering any vestige of a myrtle-bed near any one of 
the windows. From the garden they returned to the house, 
and had the door opened that led into the north hall. 

They were shown the place on the pavement where the 
keys had been found, and the place at the top of the first flight 
of stairs where Mrs. Jazeph had been discovered when the 
alarm was given. At Mr. Frankland s suggestion, the door of 
the room which immediately fronted this spot was opened. 
It presented a dreary spectacle of dust and dirt and dimness. 
Some old pictures were piled against one of the walls, some 
tattered chairs were heaped together in the middle of the 
floor, some broken china lay on the mantel-piece, and a rotten 
cabinet, cracked through from top to bottom, stood in one 
corner. These few relics of the furnishing and fitting-up of 
the room were all carefully examined, but nothing of the 
smallest importance nothing tending in the most remote 



THE DEAD SECRET. 255 

degree to clear up the mystery of the Myrtle Room was 
discovered. 

" Shall we have the other doors opened ?" inquired Rosa 
mond when they came out on the landing again. 

" I think it will be useless," replied her husband. " Our 
only hope of finding out the mystery of the Myrtle Room 
if it is as deeply hidden from us as I believe it to be is by 
searching for it in that room, and no other. The search, to 
be effectual, must extend, if we find it necessary, to the pull 
ing up of the floor and wainscots perhaps even to the dis 
mantling of the walls. We may do that with one room 
when we know where it is, but we can not, by any process 
short of pulling the whole side of the house down, do it with 
the sixteen rooms, through which our present ignorance con 
demns us to wander without guide or clew. It is hopeless 
enough to be looking for we know not what ; but let us dis 
cover, if we can, where the four walls are within which that 
unpromising search must begin and end. Surely the floor of 
the landing must be dusty ? Are there no foot-marks on it, 
after Mrs. Jazeph s visit, that might lead us to the right 
door?" 

This suggestion led to a search for footsteps on the dusty 
floor of the landing, but nothing of the sort could be found. 
Matting had been laid down over the floor at some former 
period, and the surface, torn, ragged, and rotten with age, 
was too uneven in every part to allow the dust to lie smooth 
ly on it. Here and there, where there was a hole through 
to the boards of the landing, Mr. Frankland s servant thought 
he detected marks in the dust which might have been pro 
duced by the toe or the heel of a shoe ; but these faint and 
doubtful indications lay yards and yards apart from each 
other, and to draw any conclusion of the slightest impor 
tance from them was simply and plainly impossible. After 
spending more than an hour in examining the north side of 
the house, Rosamond was obliged to confess that the serv 
ants were right when they predicted, on first opening the 
door in the hall, that she would discover nothing. 

"The letter must go, Lenny," she said, when they returned 
to the breakfast-room. 

" There is no help for it," answered her husband. " Send 
away the post-bag, and let us say no more about it." 

M 



256 THE DEAD SECRET. 

The letter was dispatched by that day s post. In the re 
mote position of Porthgenna, and in the unfinished state of 
the railroad at that time, two days would elapse before an 
answer from London could be reasonably hoped for. Feel 
ing that it would be better for Rosamond if this period of 
suspense was passed out of the house, Mr. Frankland pro 
posed to fill up the time by a little excursion along the coast 
to some places famous for their scenery, which would be 
likely to interest his wife, and which she might occupy her 
self pleasantly in describing on the spot for the benefit of her 
husband. This suggestion was immediately acted on. The 
young couple left Porthgenna, and only returned on the 
evening of the second day. 

On the morning of the third day the longed-for letter from 
the vicar s man of business lay on the table when Leonard 
and Rosamond entered the breakfast-room. Shrowl had de 
cided to accept Mr. Frankland s condition first, because he 
held that any man must be out of his senses who refused a 
five-pound note when it was offered to him ; secondly, be 
cause he believed that his master was too absolutely depend 
ent on him to turn him away for any cause whatever ; thirdly, 
because, if Mr. Treverton did part with him, he was not suffi 
ciently attached to his place to care at all about losing it. 
Accordingly the bargain had been struck in five minutes 
and there was the copy of the Plan, inclosed with the letter 
of explanation to attest the fact ! 

Rosamond spread the all-important document out on the 
table with trembling hands, looked it over eagerly for a few 
moments, and laid her finger on the square that represented 
the position of the Myrtle Room. 

" Here it is !" she cried. " Oh, Lenny, how my heart beats ! 
One, two, three, four the fourth door on the first-floor land 
ing is the door of the Myrtle Room !" 

She would have called at once for the keys of the north 
rooms; but her husband insisted on her waiting until she 
had composed herself a little, and until she had taken some 
breakfast. In spite of all he could say, the meal was hurried 
over so rapidly that in ten minutes more his wife s arm was 
in his, and she was leading him to the staircase. 

The gardener s prognostication about the weather had 
been verified : it had turned to heat heavy, misty, vapor- 



TUE DEAD SECRET. 257 

ous, dull heat. One white quivering fog-cloud spread thinly 
over all the heaven, rolled down seaward on the horizon line, 
and dulled the sharp edges of the distant moorland view. 
The sunlight shone pale and trembling ; the lightest, highest 
leaves of flowers at open windows were still ; the domestic 
animals lay about sleepily in dark corners. Chance house 
hold noises sounded heavy and loud in the languid, airless 
stillness which the heat seemed to hold over the earth. Down 
in the servants hall, the usual bustle of morning work was 
suspended. When Rosamond looked in, on her way to the 
housekeeper s room to get the keys, the women were fanning 
themselves, and the men were sitting with their coats off. 
They were all talking peevishly about the heat, and all 
agreeing that such a day as that, in the month of June, they 
had never known and never heard of before. 

Rosamond took the keys, declined the housekeeper s offer 
to accompany her, and leading her. husband along the pas 
sages, unlocked the door of the north hall. 

"How unnaturally cool it is here!" she said, as they en 
tered the deserted place. 

At the foot of the stairs she stopped, and took a firmer 
hold of her husband s arm. 

"Is any thing the matter?" asked Leonard. "Is the 
change to the damp coolness of this place affecting you in 
any way ?" 

" No, no," she answered hastily. "I am far too excited to 
feel either heat or damp, as I might feel them at other times. 
But, Lenny, supposing your guess about Mrs. Jazeph is 
right?" 

"Yes?" 

" And, supposing we discover the Secret of the Myrtle 
Room, might it not turn out to be something concerning 
my father or my mother which we ought not to know ? 
I thousrht of that when Mrs. Pentreath offered to accom- 

O 

pany us, and it determined me to come here alone with 
you." 

"It is just as likely that the Secret might be something 
we ought to know," replied Mr. Frankland, after a moment s 
thought. " In any case, my idea about Mrs. Jazeph is, after 
all, only a guess in the dark. However, Rosamond, if you 
feel any hesitation " 



258 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" No ! come what may of it, Lenny, we can t go back now. 
Give me your hand again. We have traced the mystery thus 
far together, and together we will find it out." 

She ascended the staircase, leading him after her, as she 
spoke. On the landing she looked again at the Plan, and 
satisfied herself that the first impression she had derived from 
it, of the position of the Myrtle Room, was correct. She 
counted the doors on to the fourth, and looked out from the 
bunch the key numbered " IV.," and put it in the lock. 

Before she turned it she paused, and looked round at her 
husband. 

He was standing by her side, with his patient face turned 
expectantly toward the door. She put her right hand on 
the key, turned it slowly in the lock, drew him closer to her 
with her left hand, and paused again. 

" I don t know what has come to me," she whispered 
faintly. " I feel as if I was afraid to push open the door." 

" Your hand is cold, Rosamond. Wait a little lock the 
door again put it off till another day." 

He felt his wife s fingers close tighter and tighter on his 
hand while he said those words. Then there was an instant 
one memorable, breathless instant, never to be forgotten 
afterward of utter silence. Then he heard the sharp, crack 
ing sound of the opening door, and felt himself drawn for 
ward suddenly into a changed atmosphere, and knew that 
Rosamond and he were in the Myrtle Room. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE MYRTLE BOOM. 

A BROAD, square window, with small panes and dark sashes; 
dreary yellow light, glimmering through the dirt of half a 
century crusted on the glass ; purer rays striking across the 
dimness through the fissures of three broken panes ; dust 
floating upward, pouring downward, rolling smoothly round 
and round in the still atmosphere; lofty, bare, faded red walls; 
chairs in confusion, tables placed awry ; a tall black book 
case, with an open door half dropping from its hinges; a ped 
estal, with a broken bust lying in fragments at its feet ; a 
ceiling darkened by stains, a floor whitened by dust such 




BEFORE SHE TURNED IT SHE PAUSED, AND LOOKED ROUND AT 
HER HUSBAND." 



THE DEAD SECKET. 259 

was the aspect of the Myrtle Room when Rosamond first en 
tered it, leading her husband by the hand. 

After passing the door-way, she slowly advanced a few 
steps, and then stopped, waiting with every sense on the 
watch, with every faculty strung up to the highest pitch of 
expectation waiting in the ominous stillness, in the forlorn 
solitude, for the vague Something which the room might 
contain, which might rise visibly before her, which might 
sound audibly behind her, which might touch her on a sud 
den from above, from below, from either side. A minute or 
more she breathlessly waited; and nothing appeared, nothing 
sounded, nothing touched her. The silence and the solitude 
had their secret to keep, and kept it. 

She looked round at her husband. His face, so quiet and 
composed at other times, expressed doubt and uneasiness 
now. His disengaged hand was outstretched, and moving 
backward and forward and up and down, in the vain attempt 
to touch something which might enable him to guess at the 
position in which he was placed. His look and action, as he 
stood in that new and strange sphere, the mute appeal which 
he made so sadly and so unconsciously to his wife s loving help, 
restored Rosamond s self-possession by recalling her heart 
to the dearest of all its interests, to the holiest of all its cares. 
Her eyes, fixed so distrustfully but the moment before on 
the dreary spectacle of neglect and ruin which spread around 
them, turned fondly to her husband s face, radiant with the un 
fathomable brightness of pity and love. Shebent quickly across 
him, caught his outstretched arm, and pressed it to his side. 

" Don t do that, darling," she said, gently ; " I don t like 
to see it. It looks as if you had forgotten that I was with 
you as if you were left alone and helpless. What need have 
you of your sense of touch, when you have got me? Did you 
hear me open the door, Lenny ? Do you know that we are 
in the Myrtle Room?" 

" What did you see, Rosamond, when you opened the door? 
What do you see now ?" He asked those questions rapidly 
and eagerly, in a whisper. 

" Nothing but dust and dirt and desolation. The loneliest 
moor in Cornwall is not so lonely looking as this room ; but 
there is nothing to alarm us, nothing (except one s own fancy) 
that suggests an idea of danger of any kind." 



260 THE DEAD SECKET. 

" What made you so long before you spoke to me, Rosa 
mond ?" 

" I was frightened, love, on first entering the room not at 
what I saw, but at my own fanciful ideas of what I might 
see. I was child enough to be afraid of something starting 
out of the walls, or of something rising through the floor ; in 
short, of I hardly know what. I have got over those fears, 
Lenny, but a certain distrust of the room still clings to me. 
Do you feel it ?" 

" I feel something like it," he replied, uneasily. " I feel 
as if the night that is always before my eyes was darker to 
me in this place than in any other. Where are we standing 
now ?" 

"Just inside the door." 

" Does the floor look safe to walk on ?" He tried it sus 
piciously with his foot as he put the question. 

" Quite safe," replied Rosamond. " It would never sup 
port the furniture that is on it if it was so rotten as to be 
dangerous. Come across the room with me, and try it." 
With these words she led him slowly to the window. 

" The air seems as if it was nearer to me," he said, bending 
his face forward toward the lowest of the broken panes. 
" What is before us now ?" 

She told him, describing minutely the size and appearance 
of the window. He turned from it carelessly, as if that part 
of the room had no interest for him. Rosamond still lingered 
near the window, to try if she could feel a breath of the outer 
atmosphere. There was a momentary silence, which was 
broken by her husband. 

" What are you doing now ?" he asked anxiously. 

" I am looking out at one of the broken panes of glass, and 
trying to get some air," answered Rosamond. " The shadow 
of the house is below me, resting on the lonely garden ; but 
there is no coolness breathing up from it. I see the tall 
weeds rising straight and still, and the tangled wild-flowers 
interlacing themselves heavily. There is a tree near me, 
and the leaves look as if they were all struck motionless. 
Away to the left, there is a peep of white sea and tawny sand 
quivering in the yellow heat. There are no clouds ; there is 
no blue sky. The mist quenches the brightness of the sun 
light, and lets nothing but the fire of it through. There is 



THE DEAD SECRET. 261 

something threatening in the sky, and the earth seems to 
know it !" 

" But the room ! the room !" said Leonard, drawing her 
aside from the window. " Never mind the view ; tell me 
what the room is like exactly what it is like. I shall not 
feel easy about you, Rosamond, if you don t describe every 
thing to me just as it is." 

" My darling ! You know you can depend on my describ 
ing every thing. I am only doubting where to begin, and 
how to make sure of seeing for you what you are likely to 
think most worth looking at. Here is an old ottoman against 
the wall the wall where the window is. I will take off my 
apron and dust the seat for you ; and then you can sit down 
and listen comfortably while I tell you, before we think of 
any thing else, what the room is like, to begin with. First of 
all, I suppose, I must make you understand how large it is ?" 

" Yes, that is the first thing. Try if you can compare it 
with any room that I was familiar with before I lost my 
sight." " 

Rosamond looked backward and forward, from wall to 
wall then went to the fire-place, and walked slowly down 
the length of the room, counting her steps. Pacing over the 
dusty floor with a dainty regularity and a childish satisfac 
tion in looking down at the gay pink rosettes on her morning 
shoes ; holding up her crisp, bright muslin dress out of the 
dirt, and showing the fanciful embroidery of her petticoat, 
and the glossy stockings that fitted her little feet and ankles 
like a second skin, she moved through the dreariness, the 
desolation, the dingy ruin of the scene around her, the most 
charming living contrast to its dead gloom that youth, health, 
and beauty could present. 

Arrived at the bottom of the room, she reflected a little, 
and said to her husband 

" Do you remember the blue drawing-room, Lenny, in your 
father s house at Long Beckley ? I think this room is quite 
as large, if not larger." 

"What are the walls like?" asked Leonard, placing his 
hand on the wall behind him while he spoke. "They are 
covered with paper, are they not ?" 

" Yes ; with faded red paper, except on one side, where 
strips have been torn off and thrown on the floor. There is 

M2 



262 THE DEAD SECRET. 

wainscoting round the walls. It is cracked in many places, 
and has ragged holes in it, which seem to have been made by 
the rats and mice." 

"Are there any pictures on the walls ?" 

" No. There is an empty frame over the fire-place. And 
opposite I mean just above where I am standing now 
there is a small mirror, cracked in the centre, with broken 
branches for candlesticks projecting on either side of it. 
Above that, again, there is a stag s head and antlers; some 
of the face has dropped away, and a perfect maze of cobwebs 
is stretched between the horns. On the other walls there 
are large nails, with more cobwebs hanging down from them 
heavy with dirt but no pictures any where. Now you know 
every thing about the walls. What is the next thing ? The 
floor?" 

"I think, Rosamond, my feet have told me already what 
the floor is like ?" 

" They may have told you that it is bare, dear ; but I can 
tell you more than that. It slopes down from every side to 
ward the middle of the room. It is covered thick with dust, 
which is swept about I suppose by the wind blowing 
through the broken panes into strange, wavy, feathery 
shapes that quite hide the floor beneath. Lenny ! suppose 
these boards should be made to take up any where ! If we 
discover nothing to-day, we will have them swept to-morrow. 
In the mean time, I must go on telling you about the room, 
must I not ? You know already what the size of it is, what 
the window is like, what the walls are like, what the floor is 
like. Is there any thing else before we come to the furni 
ture ? Oh, yes ! the ceiling for that completes the shell of 
the room. I can t see much of it, it is so high. There are 
great cracks and stains from one end to the other, and the 
plaster has come away in patches in, some places. The cen 
tre ornament seems to be made of alternate rows of small 
plaster cabbages and large plaster lozenges. Two bits of 
chain hang down from the middle, which, I suppose, once held 
a chandelier. The cornice is so dingy that I can hardly tell 
what pattern it represents. It is very broad and heavy, and 
it looks in some places as if it had once been colored, and 
that is all I can say about it. Do you feel as if you thor 
oughly understood the whole room now, Lenny ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 263 

" Thoroughly, my love ; I have the same clear picture of 
it in my mind which you always give me of every thing you 
see. You need waste no more time on me. We may now 
devote ourselves to the purpose for which we came here." 

At those last words, the smile which had been dawning on 
Rosamond s face when her husband addressed her, vanished 
from it in a moment. She stole close to his side, and, bend 
ing down over him, with her arm on his shoulder, said, in 
low, whispering tones 

" When we had the other room opened, opposite the land 
ing, we began by examining the furniture. We thought 
if you remember that the mystery of the Myrtle Room 
migTit be connected with hidden valuables that had been 
stolen, or hidden papers that ought to have been destroyed, 
or hidden stains and traces of some crime, which even a chair 
or a table might betray. Shall we examine the furniture 
here ?" 

"Is there much of it, Rosamond?" 

"More than there was in the other room," she answered. 

"More than you can examine in one morning?" 

"No; I think not." 

" Then begin with the furniture, if you have no better plan 
to propose. I am but a helpless adviser at such a crisis as 
this. I must leave the responsibilities of decision, after all, 
to rest on your shoulders. Yours are the eyes that look and 
the hands that search ; and if the secret of Mrs. Jazeph s 
reason for warning you against entering this room is to be 
found by seeking in the room, you will find it " 

"And you will know it, Lenny, as soon as it is found. I 
won t hear you talk, love, as if there was any difference be 
tween us, or any superiority in my position over yours. Now, 
let me see. What shall I begin with ? The tall book-case 
opposite the window ? or the dingy old writing-table, in the 
recess behind the fire-place? Those are the two largest pieces 
of furniture that I can see in the room." 

" Begin with the book-case, my dear, as you seem to have 
noticed that first." 

Rosamond advanced a few steps toward the book-case 
then stopped, and looked aside suddenly to the lower end of 
the room. 

" Lenny ! I forgot one thing, when I was telling you 



264 THE DEAD SECRET. 

about the walls," she said. "There are two doors in the 
room besides the door we came in at. They are both in the 
wall to the right, as I stand now with my back to the win 
dow. Each is at the same distance from the corner, and each 
is of the same size and appearance. Don t you think we 
ought to open them and see where they lead to ?" 

" Certainly. But are the keys in the locks ?" 

Rosamond approached more closely to the doors, and an 
swered in the affirmative. 

" Open them, then," said Leonard. " Stop ! not by your 
self. Take me with you. I don t like the idea of sitting 
here, and leaving you to open those doors by yourself." 

Rosamond retraced her steps to the place where he was 
sitting, and then led him with her to the door that was far 
thest from the window. " Suppose there should be some 
dreadful sight behind it !" she said, trembling a little, as she 
stretched out her hand toward the key. 

"Try to suppose (what is much more probable) that it 
only leads into another room," suggested Leonard. 

Rosamond threw the door wide open, suddenly. Her hus 
band was right. It merely led into the next room. 

They passed on to the second door. " Can this one serve 
the same purpose as the other ?" said Rosamond, slowly and 
distrustfully turning the key. 

She opened it as she had opened the first door, put her 
head inside it for an instant, drew back, shuddering, and 
closed it again violently, with a faint exclamation of disgust. 

"Don t be alarmed, Lenny," she said, leading him away 
abruptly. "The door only opens on a large, empty cup 
board. But there are quantities of horrible, crawling brown 
creatures about the wall inside. I have shut them in again 
in their darkness and their secrecy ; and now I am going to 
take you back to your seat, before we find out, next, what 
the book-case contains." 

The door of the upper part of the book-case, hanging open 
and half dropping from its hinges, showed the emptiness of 
the shelves on one side at a glance. The corresponding door, 
when Rosamond pulled it open, disclosed exactly the same 
spectacle of barrenness on the other side. Over every shelf 
there spread the same dreary accumulation of dust and dirt, 
without a vestige of a book, without even a stray scrap of 



THE DEAD SECRET. 265 

paper lying any where in a corner to attract the eye, from 
top to bottom. 

The lower portion of the book-case was divided into three 
cupboards. In the door of one of the three, the rusty key 
remained in the lock. Rosamond turned it with some diffi 
culty, and looked into the cupboard. At the back of it were 
scattered a pack of playing-cards, brown with dirt. A mor 
sel of torn, tangled muslin lay among them, which, when 
Rosamond spread it out, proved to be the remains of a cler 
gyman s band. In one corner she found a broken corkscrew 
and the winch of a fishing-rod ; in another, some stumps of 
tobacco-pipes, a few old medicine bottles, and a dog s-eared 
peddler s song-book. These were all the objects that the cup 
board contained. After Rosamond had scrupulously de 
scribed each one of them to her husband, just as she found 
it, she went on to the second cupboard. On trying the door, 
it turned out not to be locked. On looking inside, she dis 
covered nothing but some pieces of blackened cotton wool, 
and the remains of a jeweler s packing-case. 

The third door was locked, but the rusty key from the first 
cupboard opened it. Inside, there was but one object a 
small wooden box, banded round with a piece of tape, the 
two edges of which were fastened together by a seal. Rosa 
mond s flagging interest rallied instantly at this discovery. 
She described the box to her husband, and asked if he thought 
she was justified in breaking the seal. 

"Can you see any thing written on the cover?" he in 
quired. 

Rosamond carried the box to the window, blew the dust 
off the top of it, and read, on a parchment label nailed to the 
cover: "Papers. John Arthur Treverton. 1760." 

" I think you may take the responsibility of breaking the 
seal," said Leonard. " If those papers had been of any family 
importance, they could scarcely have been left forgotten in 
an old book-case by your father and his executors." 

Rosamond broke the seal, then looked up doubtfully at her 
husband before she opened the box. " It seems a mere waste 
of time to look into this," she said. " How can a box that 
has not been opened since seventeen hundred and sixty help 
us to discover the mystery of Mrs. Jazeph and the Myrtle 
Room?" 



266 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" But do we know that it has not been opened since then?" 
said Leonard. u Might not the tape and seal have been put 
round it by any body at some more recent period of time ? 
You can judge best, because you can see if there is any in 
scription on the tape, or any signs to form an opinion by 
upon the seal." 

" The seal is a blank, Lenny, except that it has a flower 
like a forget-me-not in the middle. I can see no mark of a 
pen on either side of the tape. Any body in the world might 
have opened the box before me," she continued, forcing up 
the lid easily with her hands, " for the lock is no protection 
to it. The wood of the cover is so rotten that I have pulled 
the staple out, and left it sticking by itself in the lock below." 

On examination the box proved to be full of papers. At 
the top of the uppermost packet were written these words : 
" Election expenses. I won by four votes. Price fifty pounds 
each. J. A. Treverton." The next layer of papers had no 
inscription. Rosamond opened them, and read on the first 
leaf "Birthday Ode. Respectfully addressed to the Mae 
cenas of modern times in his poetic retirement at Porthgen- 
na." Below this production appeared a collection of old 
bills, old notes of invitation, old doctor s prescriptions, and 
old leaves of betting-books, tied together with a piece of 
whip-cord. Last of all, there lay on the bottom of the box 
one thin leaf of paper, the visible side of which presented a 
perfect blank. Rosamond took it up, turned it to look at the 
other side, and saw some faint ink-lines crossing each other 
in various directions, and having letters of the alphabet at 
tached to them in certain places. She had made her husband 
acquainted with the contents of all the other papers, as a 
matter of course; and when she had described this last paper 
to him, he explained to her that the lines and letters repre 
sented a mathematical problem. 

" The book-case tells us nothing," said Rosamond, slowly 
putting the papers back in the box. " Shall we try the writ 
ing-table by the fire-place, next?" 

" What does it look like, Rosamond ?" 

"It has two rows of drawers down each side; and the 
whole top is made in an odd, old-fashioned way to slope up 
ward, like a very large writing-desk." 

" Does the top open?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 267 

Rosamond went to the table, examined it narrowly, and 
then tried to raise the top. " It is ^made to open, for I see 
the key-hole," she said. "But it is locked. And all the draw 
ers," she continued, trying them one after another, " are lock 
ed too." 

" Is there no key in any of them ?" asked Leonard. 

" Not a sign of one. But the top feels so loose that I really 
think it might be forced open as I forced the little box open 
just now by a pair of stronger hands than I can boast of. 
Let me take you to the table, dear ; it may give way to your 
strength, though it will not to mine." 

She placed her husband s hands carefully under the ledge 
formed by the overhanging top of the table. He exerted his 
whole strength to force it up; but in this case the wood was 
sound, the lock held, and all his efforts were in vain. 

"Must we send for a locksmith?" asked Rosamond, with a 
look of disappointment. 

" If the table is of any value, we must," returned her hus 
band. " If not, a screw-driver and a hammer will open both 
the top and the drawers in any body s hands." 

"In that case, Lenny, I wish we had brought them with us 
when we came into the room, for the only value of the table 
lies in the secrets that it may be hiding from us. I shall not 
feel satisfied until you and I know what there is inside of it." 

While saying these words, she took her husband s hand to 
lead him back to his seat. As they passed before the fire 
place, he stepped upon the bare stone hearth ; and, feeling 
some new substance under his feet, instinctively stretched 
out the hand that was free. It touched a marble tablet, 
with figures on it in bass-relief, which had been let into the 
middle of the chimney-piece. He stopped immediately, and 
asked what the object was that his fingers had accidentally 
touched. 

"A piece of sculpture," said Rosamond. " I did not notice 
it before. It is not very large, and not particularly attract 
ive, according to my taste. So far as I can tell, it seems to 
be intended to represent " 

Leonard stopped her before she could say any more. " Let 
me try, for once, if I can t make a discovery for myself," he 
said, a little impatiently. " Let me try if my fingers won t 
tell me what this sculpture is meant to represent." 



268 THE DEAD SECRET. 

He passed his hands carefully over the bass-relief (Rosa 
mond watching their slightest movement with silent interest, 
the while), considered a little, and said 

" Is there not a figure of a man sitting down, in the right- 
hand corner ? And are there not rocks and trees, very stiffly 
done, high up, at the left-hand side ?" 

Rosamond looked at him tenderly, and smiled. " My poor 
dear !" she said. " Your man sitting down is, in reality, a 
miniature copy of the famous ancient statue of Niobe and 
her child ; your rocks are marble imitations of clouds, and 
your stiffly done trees are arrows darting out from some in 
visible Jupiter or Apollo, or other heathen god. Ah, Lenny, 
Lenny ! you can t trust your touch, love, as you can trust 
me!" 

A momentary shade of vexation passed across his face ; 
but it vanished the instant she took his hand again to lead 
him back to his seat. He drew her to him gently, and kissed 
her cheek. " You are right, Rosamond," he said. " The one 
faithful friend to me in my blindness, who never fails, is my 
wife." 

Seeing him look a little saddened, and feeling, with the 
quick intuition of a woman s affection, that he was thinking 
of the days when he had enjoyed the blessing of sight, Rosa 
mond returned abruptly, as soon as she saw him seated once 
more on the ottoman, to the subject of the Myrtle Room. 

" Where shall I look next, dear ?" she said. " The book 
case we have examined. The writing-table we must wait to 
examine. What else is there that has a cupboard or a drawer 
in it ?" She looked round her in perplexity ; then w r alked 
away toward the part of the room to which her attention 
had been last drawn the part where the fire-place was situ 
ated. 

" I thought I noticed something here, Lenny, when I passed 
just now with you," she said, approaching the second recess 
behind the mantel -piece, corresponding with the recess in 
which the writing-table stood. 

She looked into the place closely, and detected in a corner, 
darkened by the shadow of the heavy projecting mantel-piece, 
a narrow, rickety little table, made of the commonest mahog 
any the frailest, poorest, least conspicuous piece of furniture 
in the whole room. She pushed it out contemptuously into 



THE DEAD SECRET. 269 

the light with her foot. It ran on clumsy old-fashioned cast 
ers, and creaked wearily as it moved. 

" Lenny, I have found another table," said Rosamond. "A 
miserable, forlorn -looking little thing, lost in a corner. I 
have just pushed it into the light, and I have discovered one 
drawer in it." She paused, and tried to open the drawer; 
but it resisted her. "Another lock!" she exclaimed, impa 
tiently. " Even this wretched thing is closed against us !" 

She pushed the table sharply away with her hand. It 
swayed on its frail legs, tottered, and fell over on the floor 
fell as heavily as a table of twice its size fell with a shock 
that rang through the room, and repeated itself again and 
again in the echoes of the lonesome north hall. 

Rosamond ran to her husband, seeing him start from his 
seat in alarm, and told him what had happened. " You call 
it a little table," he replied, in astonishment. "It fell like 
one of the largest pieces of furniture in the room !" 

" Surely there must have been something heavy in the 
drawer !" said Rosamond, approaching the table with her 
spirits still fluttered by the shock of its unnaturally heavy 
fall. After waiting for a few moments to give the dust 
which it had raised, and which still hung over it in thick 
lazy clouds, time to disperse, she stooped down and ex 
amined it. It was cracked across the top from end to end, 
and the lock had been broken away from its fastenings by 
the fall. 

She set the table up again carefully, drew out the drawer, 
and, after a glance at its contents, turned to her husband. 
" I knew it," she said, " I knew there must be something 
heavy in the drawer. It is full of pieces of copper-ore, like 
those specimens of my father s, Lenny, from Porthgenna 
mine. Wait ! I think I feel something else, as far away at 
the back here as my hand can reach." 

She extricated from the lumps of ore at the back of the 
drawer a small circular picture-frame of black wood, about 
the size of an ordinary hand-glass. It came out with the 
front part downward, and with the area which its circle in 
closed filled up by a thin piece of wood, of the sort which is 
used at the backs of small frames to keep drawings and en 
gravings steady in them. This piece of wood (only secured 
to the back of the frame by one nail) had been forced out of 



270 THE DEAD SECRET. 

its place, probably by the overthrow of the table ; and when 
Rosamond took the frame out of the drawer, she observed 
between it and the dislodged piece of wood the end of a 
morsel of paper, apparently folded many times over, so as to 
occupy the smallest possible space. She drew out the piece 
of paper, laid it aside on the table without unfolding it, re 
placed the piece of wood in its proper position, and then 
turned the frame round, to see if there was a picture in 
front. 

There was a picture a picture painted in oils, darkened, 
but not much faded, by age. It represented the head of a 
woman, and the figure as far as the bosom. 

The instant Rosamond s eyes fell on it she shuddered, and 
hurriedly advanced toward her husband with the picture in 
her hand. 

" Well, what have you found now ?" he inquired, hearing 
her approach. 

" A picture," she answered, faintly, stopping to look at it 
again. 

Leonard s sensitive ear detected a change in her voice. 
" Is there any thing that alarms you in the picture ?" he ask 
ed, half in jest, half in earnest. 

"There is something that startles me something that 
seems to have turned me cold for the moment, hot as the day 
is," said Rosamond. "Do you remember the description the 
servant -girl gave us, on the night we arrived here, of the 
ghost of the north rooms ?" 

" Yes, I remember it perfectly." 

" Lenny ! that description and this picture are exactly 
alike ! Here is the curling, light-brown hair. Here is the 
dimple on each cheek. Here are the bright regular teeth. 
Here is that leering, wicked, fatal beauty which the girl tried 
to describe, and did describe, when she said it was awful !" 

Leonard smiled. " That vivid fancy of yours, my dear, 
takes strange flights sometimes," he said, quietly. 

" Fancy !" repeated Rosamond to herself. " How can it 
be fancy when I see the face ? how can it be fancy when I 
f ee l " She stopped, shuddered again, and, returning has 
tily to the table, placed the picture on it, face downward. 
As she did so, the morsel of folded paper which she had re 
moved from the back of the frame caught her eye. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 271 

" There may be some account of the picture in this," she 
said, and stretched out her hand to it. 

It was getting on toward noon. The heat weighed heavier 
on the air, and the stillness of all things was more intense 
than ever, as she took up the paper from the table. 

Fold by fold she opened it, and saw that there were writ 
ten characters inside, traced in ink that had faded to a light, 
yellow hue. She smoothed it out carefully on the table 
then took it up again and looked at the first line of the writ 
ing. 

The first line contained only three words words which 
told her that the paper with the writing on it was not a de 
scription of the picture, but a letter words which made her 
start and change color the moment her eye fell upon them. 
Without attempting to read any further, she hastily turned 
over the leaf to find out the place where the writing ended. 

It ended at the bottom of the third page ; but there was a 
break in the lines, near the foot of the second page, and in 
that break there were two names signed. She looked at the 
uppermost of the two started again and turned back in 
stantly to the first page. 

Line by line, and word by word, she read through the 
writing; her natural complexion fading out gradually the 
while, and a dull, equal whiteness overspreading all her face 
in its stead. When she had come to the end of the third 
page, the hand in which she held the letter dropped to her 
side, and she turned her head slowly toward Leonard. In 
that position she stood no tears moistening her eyes, no 
change passing over her features, no word escaping her lips, 
no movement varying the position of her limbs in that po 
sition she stood, with the fatal letter crumpled up in her cold 
fingers, looking steadfastly, speechlessly, breathlessly at her 
blind husband. 

He was still sitting as she had seen him a few minutes be 
fore, with his legs crossed, his hands clasped together in 
front of them, and his head turned expectantly in the direc 
tion in which he had last heard the sound of his wife s voice. 
But in a few moments the intense stillness in the room forced 
itself upon his attention. He changed his position listened 
for a little, turning his head uneasily from side to side, and 
then called to his wife. 



272 THE DEAD SECRET. 

"Rosamond!" 

At the sound of his voice her lips moved, and her fingers 
closed faster on the paper that they held ; but she neither 
stepped forward nor spoke. 

"Rosamond!" 

Her lips moved again faint traces of expression began to 
pass shadow-like over the blank whiteness of her face she 
advanced one step, hesitated, looked at the letter, and stop 
ped. 

Hearing no answer, he rose surprised and uneasy. Mov 
ing his poor, helpless, wandering hands to and fro before him 
in the air, he walked forward a few paces, straight out from 
the wall against which he had been sitting. A chair, which 
his hands were not held low enough to touch, stood in his 
way ; and, as he still advanced, he struck his knee sharply 
against it. 

A cry burst from Rosamond s lips, as if the pain of the 
blow had passed, at the instant of its infliction, from her hus 
band to herself. She was by his side in a moment. " You 
are not hurt, Lenny," she said, faintly. 

" No, no." He tried to press his hand on the place where 
he had struck himself, but she knelt down quickly, and put 
her own hand there instead, nestling her head against him, 
while she was on her knees, in a strangely hesitating timid 
way. He lightly laid the hand which she had intercepted 
on her shoulder. The moment it touched her, her eyes be 
gan to soften ; the tears rose in them, and fell slowly one by 
one down her cheeks. 

"I thought you had left me," he said. "There was such 
a silence that I fancied you had gone out of the room." 

"Will you come out of it with me now?" Her strength 
seemed to fail her while she asked the question ; her head 
drooped on her breast, and she let the letter fall on the floor 
at her side. 

" Are you tired already, Rosamond ? Your voice sounds 
as if you were." 

" I want to leave the room," she said, still in the same low, 
faint, constrained tone. "Is your knee easier, dear? Can 
you walk now ?" 

" Certainly. There is nothing in the world the matter 
with my knee. If you are tired, Rosamond as I know you 



THE DEAD SECRET. 273 

are, though you may not confess it the sooner we leave the 
room the better." 

She appeared not to hear the last words he said. Her fin 
gers were working feverishly about her neck and bosom; 
two bright red spots were beginning to burn in her pale 
cheeks; her eyes were fixed vacantly on the letter at her 
side; her hands wavered about it before she picked it up. 
For a few seconds she waited on her knees, looking at it in 
tently, with her head turned away from her husband then 
rose and walked to the fire-place. Among the dust, ashes, 
and other rubbish at the back of the grate, were scattered 
some old torn pieces of paper. They caught her eye, and 
held it fixed on them. She looked and looked, slowly bend 
ing down nearer and nearer to the grate. For one moment 
she held the letter out over the rubbish in both hands the 
next she drew back shuddering violently, and turned round 
so as to face her husband again. At the sight of him a faint 
inarticulate exclamation, half sigh, half sob, burst from her. 
" Oh, no, no !" she whispered to herself, clasping her hands 
together fervently, and looking at him with fond, mournful 
eyes. " Never, never, Lenny come of it what may !" 

" Were you speaking to me, Rosamond ?" 

" Yes. love. I was saying She paused, and, with trem 
bling fingers, folded up the paper again, exactly in the form 
in which she had found it. 

" Where are you ?" he asked. " Your voice sounds away 
from me at the other end of the room again. Where are 
you ?" 

She ran to him, flushed and trembling and tearful, took 
him by the arm, and, without an instant of hesitation, with 
out the faintest sign of irresolution in her face, placed the 
folded paper boldly in his hand. " Keep that, Lenny," she 
said, turning deadly pale, but still not losing her firmness. 
"Keep that, and ask me to read it to you as soon as we are 
out of the Myrtle Room." 

" What is it ?" he asked. 

"The last thing I have found, love," she replied, looking at 
him earnestly, with a deep sigh of relief. 

" Is it of any importance ?" 

Instead of answering, she suddenly caught him to her 
bosom, clung to him with all the fervor of her impulsive nat- 



274 THE DEAD SECRET. 

ure, and breathlessly and passionately covered his face with 
kisses. 

" Gently ! gently !" said Leonard, laughing. " You take 
away my breath." 

She drew back, and stood looking at him in silence, with a 
hand laid on each of his shoulders. " Oh, my angel !" she 
murmured tenderly. " I would give all I have in the world, 
if I could only know how much you love me !" 

" Surely," he returned, still laughing " Surely, Rosamond, 
you ought to know by this time !" 

" I shall know soon." She spoke those words in tones so 
quiet and low that they were barely audible. Interpreting 
the change in her voice as a fresh indication of fatigue, Leon 
ard invited her to lead him away by holding out his hand. 
She took it in silence, and guided him slowly to the door. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE TELLING OF THE SECRET. 

ON their way back to the inhabited side of the house, Ros 
amond made no further reference to the subject of the folded 
paper which she had placed in her husband s hands. 

All her attention, while they were returning to the west 
front, seemed to be absorbed in the one act of jealously 
watching every inch of ground that Leonard walked over, 
to make sure that it was safe and smooth before she suffered 
him to set his foot on it. Careful and considerate as she 
had always been, from the first day of their married life, 
whenever she led him from one place to another, she was 
now unduly, almost absurdly anxious to preserve him from 
the remotest possibility of an accident. Finding that he 
was the nearest to the outside of the open landing when 
they left the Myrtle Room, she insisted on changing places, 
so that he might be nearest to the wall. While they were 
descending the stairs, she stopped him in the middle, to in 
quire if he felt any pain in the knee which he had struck 
against the chair. At the last step she brought him to a 
stand-still again, while she moved away the torn and tangled 
remains of an old mat, for fear one of his feet should catch 
in it. Walking across the north hall, she intreated that he 



THE DEAD SECRET. 275 

would take her arm and lean heavily upon her, because she 
felt sure that his knee was not quite free from stiffness yet. 
Even at the short flight of stairs which connected the en 
trance to the hall with the passages leading to the west side 
of the house, she twice stopped him on the way down, to 
place his foot on the sound parts of the steps, which she rep 
resented as dangerously worn away in more places than one. 
He laughed good-humoredly at her excessive anxiety to save 
him from all danger of stumbling, and asked if there was any 
likelihood, with their numerous stoppages, of getting back to 
the west side of the house in time for lunch. She was not 
ready, as usual, with her retort ; his laugh found no pleasant 
echo in hers ; she only answered that it was impossible to be 
too anxious about him ; and then went on in silence till they 
reached the door of the housekeeper s room. 

Leaving him for a moment outside, she went in to give the 
keys back again to Mrs. Pentreath. 

" Dear me, ma am !" exclaimed the housekeeper, " you look 
quite overcome by the heat of the day and the close air of 
those old rooms. Can I get you a glass of water, or may I 
give you my bottle of salts?" 

Rosamond declined both offers. 

" May I be allowed to ask, ma am, if any thing has been 
found this time in the north rooms?" inquired Mrs. Pen 
treath, hanging up the bunch of keys. 

" Only some old papers," replied Rosamond, turning away. 

" I beg pardon again, ma am," pursued the housekeeper ; 
" but, in case any of the gentry of the neighborhood should 
call to-day ?" 

" We are engaged. No matter who it may be, we are both 
engaged." Answering briefly in these terms, Rosamond left 
Mrs. Pentreath, and rejoined her husband. 

With the same excess of attention and care which she had 
shown on the way to the housekeeper s room, she now led 
him up the west staircase. The library door happening to 
stand open, they passed through it on their way to the draw 
ing-room, which was the larger and cooler apartment of the 
two. Having guided Leonard to a seat, Rosamond returned 
to the library, and took from the table a tray containing a 
bottle of water and a tumbler, which she had noticed when 
she passed through. 



276 THE DEAD SECRET. 

"I may feel faint as well as frightened," she said quickly 
to herself, turning round with the tray in her hand to return 
to the drawing-room. 

After she had put the water down on a table in a corner, 
she noiselessly locked the door leading into the library, then 
the door leading into the passage. Leonard, hearing her 
moving about, advised her to keep quiet on the sofa. She 
patted him gently on the cheek, and was about to make some 
suitable answer, when she accidentally beheld her face re 
flected in the looking-glass under which he was sitting. The 
sight of her own white cheeks and startled eyes suspended 
the words on her lips. She hastened away to the window, 
to catch any breath of air that might be wafted toward her 
from the sea. 

The heat-mist still hid the horizon. Nearer, the oily, col 
orless surface of the water was just visible, heaving slowly, 
from time to time, in one vast monotonous wave that rolled 
itself out smoothly and endlessly till it was lost in the white 
obscurity of the mist. Close on the shore the noisy surf was 
hushed. No sound came from the beach except at long, 
wearily long intervals, when a quick thump, and a still 
splash, just audible and no more, announced the fall of one 
tiny, mimic wave upon the parching sand. On the terrace 
in front of the house, the changeless hum of summer insects 
was all that told of life and movement. Not a human figure 
was to be seen any where on the shore ; no sign of a sail 
loomed shadowy through the heat at sea ; no breath of air 
waved the light tendrils of the creepers that twined up the 
house-wall, or refreshed the drooping flowers ranged in the 
windows. Rosamond turned away from the outer prospect, 
after a moment s weary contemplation of it. As she looked 
into the room again, her husband spoke to her. 

" What precious thing lies hidden in this paper?" he asked, 
producing the letter, and smiling as he opened it. " Surely 
there must be something besides writing some inestimable 
powder, or some bank-note of fabulous value wrapped up in 
all these folds ?" 

Rosamond s heart sank within her as he opened the letter 
and passed his finger over the writing inside, with a mock 
expression of anxiety, and a light jest about sharing all treas 
ures discovered at Porthgenna with his wife. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 277 

"I will read it to you directly, Lenny," she said, dropping 
into the nearest seat, and languidly pushing her hair back 
from her temples. " But put it away for a few minutes now, 
and let us talk of any thing else you like that does not re 
mind us of the Myrtle Room. I am very capricious, am I 
not, to be so suddenly weary of the very subject that I have 
been fondest of talking about for so many weeks past? Tell 
me, love," she added, rising abruptly and going to the back 
of his chair; "do I get worse with my whims and fancies 
and faults ? or am I improved, since the time when we were 
first married ?" 

He tossed the letter aside carelessly on a table which was 
always placed by the arm of his chair, and shook his forefin 
ger at her with a frown of comic reproof. " Oh, fie, Rosa 
mond ! are you trying to entrap me into paying you compli 
ments?" 

The light tone that he persisted in adopting seemed abso 
lutely to terrify her. She shrank away from his chair, and 
sat down again at a little distance from him. 

" I remember I used to offend you," she continued, quickly 
and confusedly. " No, no, not to offend only to vex you a 
little by talking too familiarly to the servants. You might 
almost have fancied, at first, if you had not known me so 
well, that it was a habit with me because I had once been a 
servant myself. Suppose I had been a servant the servant 
who had helped to nurse you in your illnesses, the servant 
who led you about in your blindness more carefully than any 
one else would you have thought much, then, of the differ 
ence between us? would you " 

She stopped. The smile had vanished from Leonard s face, 
and he had turned a little away from her. " What is the 
use, Rosamond, of supposing events that never could have 
happened ?" he asked rather impatiently. 

She went to the side-table, poured out some of the water 
she had brought from the library, and drank it eagerly ; then 
walked to the window and plucked a few of the flowers that 
were placed there. She threw some of them away again the 
next moment; but kept the rest in her hand, thoughtfully 
arranging them so as to contrast their colors with the best 
effect. When this was done, she put them into her bosom, 
looked down absently at them, took them out again, and, re- 

N 



278 THE DEAD SECRET. 

turning to her husband, placed the little nosegay in the but 
ton-hole of his coat. 

" Something to make you look gay and bright, love as I 
always wish to see you," she said, seating herself in her fa 
vorite attitude at his feet, and looking up at him sadly, with 
her arms resting on his knees. 

" What are you thinking about, Rosamond ?" he asked, 
after an interval of silence. 

"I was wondering, Lenny, whether any woman in the 
world could be as fond of you as I am. I feel almost afraid 
that there are others who would ask nothing better than to 
live and die for you, as well as me. There is something in 
your face, in your voice, in all your ways something besides 
the interest of your sad, sad affliction that would draw any 
woman s heart to you, I think. If I were to die 

" If you were to die !" He started as he repeated the words 
after her, and, leaning forward, anxiously laid his hand upon 
her forehead. " You are thinking and talking very strangely 
this morning, Rosamond ! Are you not well?" 

She rose on her knees and looked closer at him, her face 
brightening a little, and a faint smile just playing round her 
lips. " I wonder if you will always be as anxious about me, 
and as fond of me, as you are now ?" she whispered, kissing 
his hand as she removed it from her forehead. He leaned 
back again in the chair, and told her jestingly not to look too 
far into the future. The words, lightly as they were spoken, 
struck deep into her heart. " There are times, Lenny," she 
said, " when all one s happiness in the present depends upon 
one s certainty of the future." She looked at the letter, which 
her husband had left open on a table near him, as she spoke ; 
and, after a momentary struggle with herself, took it in her 
hand to read it. At the first word her voice failed her ; the 
deadly paleness overspread her face again ; she threw the 
letter back on the table, and walked away to the other end 
of the room. 

" The future ?" asked Leonard. " What future, Rosamond, 
can you possibly mean ?" 

"Suppose I meant our future at Porthgenna?" she said, 
moistening her dry lips with a few drops of water. " Shall 
we stay here as long as we thought we should, and be as 
happy as we have been every where else ? You told me on 



THE DEAD SECRET. 279 

the journey that I should find it dull, and that I should be 
driven to try all sorts of extraordinary occupations to amuse 
myself. You said you expected that I should begin with 
gardening and end by writing a novel. A novel !" She ap 
proached her husband again, and watched his face eagerly 
while she went on. " Why not ? More women write novels 
now than men. What is to prevent me from trying ? The 
first great requisite, I suppose, is to have an idea of a story ; 
and that I have got." She advanced a few steps farther, 
reached the table on which the letter lay, and placed her 
hand on it, keeping her eyes still fixed intently on Leonard s 
face. 

" And what is your idea, Rosamond ?" he asked. 

"This," she replied. "I mean to make the main interest 
of the story centre in two young married people. They shall 
be very fond of each other as fond as we are, Lenny and 
they shall be in our rank of life. After they have been hap 
pily married some time, and when they have got one child 
to make them love each other more dearly than ever, a ter 
rible discovery shall fall upon them like a thunderbolt. The 
husband shall have chosen for his wife a young lady bearing 
as ancient a family name as " 

" As your name ?" suggested Leonard. 

" As the name of the Treverton family," she continued, aft 
er a pause, during which her hand had been restlessly moving 
the letter to and fro on the table. "The husband shall be 
well-born as well-born as you, Lenny and the terrible dis 
covery shall be, that his wife has no right to the ancient name 
that she bore when he married her." 

" I can t say, my love, that I approve of your idea. Your 
story will decoy the reader into feeling an interest in a wom 
an who turns out to be an impostor." 

"No!" cried Rosamond, warmly. "A true woman a 
woman who never stooped to a deception a woman full of 
faults and failings, but a teller of the truth at all hazards and 
all sacrifices. Hear me out, Lenny, before you judge." Hot 
tears rushed into her eyes ; but she dashed them away pas 
sionately, and went on. " The wife shall grow up to wom 
anhood, and shall marry, in total ignorance mind that ! 
in total ignorance of her real history. The sudden disclos 
ure of the truth shall overwhelm her she shall find herself 



280 THE DEAD SECRET. 

struck by a calamity which she had no hand in bringing 
about. She shall be staggered in her very reason by the dis 
covery ; it shall burst upon her when she has no one but her 
self to depend on; she shall have the power of keeping it a 
secret from her husband with perfect impunity; she shall 1 be 
tried, she shall be shaken in her mortal frailness, by one mo 
ment of fearful temptation; she shall conquer it, and, of her 
own free will, she shall tell her husband all that she knows 
herself. Now, Lenny, what do you call that woman ? an im 
postor ?" 

"No: a victim." 

" Who goes of her own accord to the sacrifice ? and who is 
to be sacrificed ?" 

" I never said that." 

" What would you do with her, Lenny, if you were writing 
the story ? I mean, how would you make her husband be 
have to her ? It is a question in which a man s nature is con 
cerned, and a woman is not competent to decide it. I am 
perplexed about how to end the story. How would you end 
it, love?" As she ceased, her voice sank sadly to its gentlest 
pleading tones. She came close to him, and twined her fin 
gers in his hair fondly. "How would you end it, love?" she 
repeated, stooping down till her trembling lips just touched 
his forehead. 

He moved uneasily in his chair, and replied " I am not a 
writer of novels, Rosamond." 

" But how would you act, Lenny, if you were that husband?" 

" It is hard for me to say," he answered. " I have not your 
vivid imagination, my dear. I have no power of putting my 
self, at a moment s notice, into a position that is not my own, 
and of knowing how I should act in it." 

" But suppose your wife was close to you as close as I 
am now ? Suppose she had just told you the dreadful secret, 
and was standing before you as I am standing now with 
the happiness of her whole life to come depending on one 
kind word from your lips ? Oh, Lenny, you would not let 
her drop broken-hearted at your feet ? You would know, let 
her birth be what it might, that she was still the same faith 
ful creature who had cherished and served and trusted and 
worshiped you since her marriage-day, and who asked noth 
ing in return but to lay her head on your bosom, and to hear 



THE DEAD SECRET. 281 

you say that you loved her? You would know that she had 
nerved herself to tell the i atal secret, because, in her loyalty 
and love to her husband, she would rather die forsaken and 
despised, than live, deceiving him? You would know all 
this, and you would open your arms to the mother of your 
child, to the wife of your first love, though she was the low 
liest of all lowly born women in the estimation of the world ? 
Oh, you would, Lenny, I know you would !" 

"Rosamond! how your hands tremble; how your voice 
alters ! You are agitating yourself about this supposed 
story of yours, as if you were talking of real events." 

"You would take her to your heart, Lenny? You would 
open your arms to her without an instant of unworthy 
doubt ?" 

" Hush ! hush ! I hope I should." 

"Hope? only hope? Qh, think again, love, think again; 
and say you know you should !" 

" Must I, Rosamond ? Then I do say it." 

She drew back as the words passed his lips, and took the 
letter from the table. 

" You have not yet asked me, Lenny, to read the letter 
that I found in the Myrtle Room. I offer to read it now of 
my own accord." 

She trembled a little as she spoke those few decisive words, 
but her utterance of them was clear and steady, as if her 
consciousness of being now irrevocably pledged to make the 
disclosure had strengthened her at last to dare all hazards 
and end all suspense. 

Her husband turned toward the place from which the 
sound of her voice had reached him, with a mixed expression 
of perplexity and surprise in his face. " You pass so sud 
denly from one subject to another," he said, "that I hardly 
know how to follow you. What in the world, Rosamond, 
takes you, at one jump, from a romantic argument about a 
situation in a novel, to the plain, practical business of read 
ing an old letter ?" 

"Perhaps there is a closer connection between the two 
than you suspect," she answered. 

" A closer connection ? What connection ? I don t under 
stand." 

"The letter will explain." 



282 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" Why the letter ? Why should you not explain ?" 

She stole one anxious look at his face, and saw that a sense 
of something serious to come was now overshadowing his 
mind for the first time. 

" Rosamond !" he exclaimed, " there is some mystery " 

" There are no mysteries between us two," she interposed 
quickly. "There never have been any, love; there never 
shall be." She moved a little nearer to him to take her old 
favorite place on his knee, then checked herself, and drew 
back again to the table. Warning tears in her eyes bade 
her distrust her own firmness, and read the letter where she 
could not feel the beating of his heart. 

" Did I tell you," she resumed, after waiting an instant to 
compose herself, " where I found the folded piece of paper 
which I put into your hand in the Myrtle Room ?" 

"No," he replied, "I think not." 

" I found it at the back of the frame of that picture the 
picture of the ghostly woman with the wicked face. I opened 
it immediately, and saw that it was a letter. The address 
inside, the first line under it, and one of the two signatures 
which it contained, were in a handwriting that I knew." 

" Whose !" 

"The handwriting of the late Mrs.Treverton." 

"Of your mother?" 

" Of the late Mrs.Treverton." 

" Gracious God, Rosamond ! why do you speak of her in 
that way ?" 

"Let me read, and you will know. You have seen, with 
my eyes, what the Myrtle Room is like ; you have seen, with 
my eyes, every object which the search through it brought 
to light ; you must now see, with iny eyes, what this letter 
contains. It is the Secret of the Myrtle Room." 

She bent close over the faint, faded writing, and read these 
words : 

" To my Husband 

" We have parted, Arthur, forever, and I have not had the 
courage to embitter our farewell by confessing that I have 
deceived you cruelly and basely deceived you. But a few 
minutes since, you were weeping by my bedside and speak 
ing of our child. My wronged, my beloved husband, the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 283 

little daughter of your heart is not yours, is not mine. She 
is a love-child, whom I have imposed on you for mine. Her 
father was a miner at Porthgeuna ; her mother is my maid, 
Sarah Leeson." 

Rosamond paused, but never raised her head from the let 
ter. She heard her husband lay his hand suddenly on the 
table ; she heard him start to his feet ; she heard him draw 
his breath heavily in one quick gasp ; she heard him whis 
per to himself the instant after " A love-child !" With a 
fearful, painful distinctness she heard those three words. 
The tone in which he whispered them turned her cold. But 
she never moved, for there was more to read; and while 
more remained, if her life had depended on it, she could not 
have looked up. 

In a moment more she went on, and read these lines next : 

" I have many heavy sins to answer for, but this one sin 
you must pardon, Arthur, for I committed it through fond 
ness for you. That fondness told me a secret which you 
sought to hide from me. That fondness told me that your 
barren wife would never make your heart all her own until 
she had borne you a child; and your lips proved it true. 
Your first words, when you came back from sea, and when 
the infant was placed in your arms, were I have never loved 
you, Rosamond, as I love you know. If you had not said that, 
I should never have kept -my guilty secret. 

"I can add no more, for death is very near me. How the 
fraud was committed, and what my other motives were, I 
must leave you to discover from the mother of the child, who 
writes this under my dictation, and who is charged to give 
it to you w r hen I am no more. You will be merciful to the 
poor little creature who bears my name. Be merciful also 
to her unhappy parent : she is only guilty of too blindly 
obeying me. If there is any thing that mitigates the bit 
terness of my remorse, it is the remembrance that my act 
of deceit saved the most faithful and the most affection 
ate of women from shame that she had not deserved. Re 
member me forgivingly, Arthur words may tell how I 
have sinned against you ; no words can tell how I have 
loved you !" 



284 THE DEAD SECRET. 

She had struggled on thus far, and had reached the last 
line on the second page of the letter, when she paused again, 
and then tried to read the first of the two signatures " Ros 
amond Treverton." She faintly repeated two syllables of 
that familiar Christian name the name that was on her hus 
band s lips every hour of the day ! and strove to articulate 
the third, but her voice failed her. All the sacred household 
memories which that ruthless letter had profaned forever 
seemed to tear themselves away from her heart at the same 
moment. With a low, moaning cry she dropped her arms 
on the table, and laid her head down on them, and hid her 
face. 

She heard nothing, she was conscious of nothing, until she 
felt a touch on her shoulder a light touch from a hand that 
trembled. Every pulse in her body bounded in answer to it, 
and she looked up. 

Her husband had guided himself near to her by the table. 
The tears were glistening in his dim, sightless eyes. As she 
rose and touched him, his arms opened, and closed fast around 
her. 

" My own Rosamond !" he said, " come to me and be com 
forted !" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 285 



BOOK VI. 

CHAPTER I. 

UNCLE JOSEPH. 

THE day and the night had passed, and the new morning 
had come, before the husband and wife could trust themselves 
to speak calmly of the Secret, and to face resignedly the du 
ties and the sacrifices which the discovery of it imposed on 
them. 

Leonard s first question referred to those lines in the letter 
which Rosamond had informed him were in a handwriting 
that she knew. Finding that he was at a loss to understand 
what means she could have of forming an opinion on this 
point, she explained that, after Captain Treverton s death, 
many letters had naturally fallen into her possession which 
had been written by Mrs. Treverton to her husband. They 
treated of ordinary domestic subjects, and she had read them 
often enough to become thoroughly acquainted with the pe 
culiarities of Mrs. Treverton s handwriting. It was remark 
ably large, firm, and masculine in character; and the address, 
the line under it, and the uppermost of the two signatures in 
the letter which had been found in the Myrtle Room, exactly 
resembled it in every particular. 

The next question related to the body of the letter. The 
writing of this, of the second signature (" Sarah Leeson"), and 
of the additional lines on the third page, also signed by Sarah 
Leeson, proclaimed itself in each case to be the production of 
the same person. While stating that fact to her husband, 
Rosamond did riot forget to explain to him that, while read 
ing the letter on the previous day, her strength and courage 
had failed her before she got to the end of it. She added 
that the postscript which she had thus omitted to read was 
of importance, because it mentioned the circumstances un 
der which the Secret had been hidden ; and begged that he 
would listen while she made him acquainted with its contents 
without any further delay. 

N2 



286 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Sitting as close to his side, now, as if they were enjoy 
ing their first honey-moon days over again, she read these 
last lines the lines which her mother had written sixteen 
years before, on the morning when she fled from Porthgenna 
Tower : 

" If this paper should ever be found (which I pray with 
my whole heart it never may be), I wish to say that I have 
come to the resolution of hiding it, because I dare not show 
the writing that it contains to my master, to whom it is ad 
dressed. In doing what I now propose to do, though I am 
acting against my mistress s last wishes, I am not breaking 
the solemn engagement which she obliged me to make before 
her on her death-bed. That engagement forbids me to de 
stroy this letter, or to take it away with me if I leave the 
house. I shall do neither my purpose is to conceal it in the 
place, of all others, where I think there is least chance of its 
ever being found again. Any hardship or misfortune which 
may follow as a consequence of this deceitful proceeding. on 
my part, will fall on myself. Others, I believe, in my con 
science, will be the happier for the hiding of the dreadful Se 
cret which this letter contains." 

" There can be no doubt, now," said Leonard, when his wife 
had read to the end ; " Mrs. Jazeph, Sarah Leeson, and the serv 
ant who disappeared from Porthgenna Tower, are one and the 
same person." 

" Poor creature !" said Rosamond, sighing as she put down 
the letter. " We know now why she warned me so anxious 
ly not to go into the Myrtle Room. Who can say what she 
must have suffered when she came as a stranger to my bed 
side ? Oh, what would I not give if I had been less hasty 
with her ! It is dreadful to remember that I spoke to her as 
a servant whom I expected to obey me ; it is worse still to 
feel that I can not, even now, think of her as a child should 
think of a mother. How can I ever tell her that I know the 
Secret? how " She paused, with a heart-sick consciousness 
of the slur that was cast on her birth ; she paused, shrinking 
as she thought of the name that her husband had given to 
her, and of her own parentage, which the laws of society dis 
dained to recognize. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 287 

" Why do you stop ?" asked Leonard. 

" I was afraid " she began, and paused again. 

" Afraid," he said, finishing the sentence for her, " that 
words of pity for that unhappy woman might wound my 
sensitive pride by reminding me of the circumstances of your 
birth ? Rosamond ! I should be unworthy of your matchless 
truthfulness toward me, if I, on my side, did not acknowledge 
that this discovery has wounded me as only a proud man can 
be wounded. My pride has been born and bred in me. My 
pride, even while I am now speaking to you, takes advantage 
of my first moments of composure, and deludes me into 
doubting, in face of all probability, whether the words you 
have read to me can, after all, be words of truth. But, 
strong as that inborn and inbred feeling is hard as it may 
be for me to discipline and master it as I ought, and must 
and will there is another feeling in my heart that is strong 
er yet." He felt for her hand, and took it in his ; then added 
" From the hour when you first devoted your life to your 
blind husband from the hour when you won all his grati 
tude, as you had already won all his love, you took a place in 
his heart, Rosamond, from which nothing, not even such a 
shock as has now assailed us, can move you ! High as I 
have always held the worth of rank in my estimation, I have 
learned, even before the event of yesterday, to hold the worth 
of my wife, let her parentage be what it may, higher still." 

" Oh, Lenny, Lenny, I can t hear you praise me, if you talk 
in the same breath as if I had made a sacrifice in marrying 
you ! But for my blind husband I might never have deserved 
what you have just said of me. When I first read that fear 
ful letter, I had one moment of vile, ungrateful doubt if your 
love for me would hold out against the discovery of the Secret. 
I had one moment of horrible temptation, that drew me away 
from you when I ought to have put the letter into your hand. 
It was the sight of you, waiting for me to speak again, so in 
nocent of all knowledge of what happened close by you, that 
brought me back to my senses, and told me what I ought to 
do. It was the sight of my blind husband that made me con 
quer the temptation to destroy that letter in the first hour 
of discovering it. Oh, if I had been the hardest-hearted of 
women, could I have ever taken your hand again could I kiss 
you, could I lie down by your side, and hear you fall asleep, 



288 THE DEAD SECRET. 

night after night, feeling that I had abused your blind depend 
ence on me to serve my own selfish interests ? knowing that 
I had only succeeded in my deceit because your affliction 
made you incapable of suspecting deception ? No, no ; I can 
hardly believe that the basest of women could be guilty of 
such baseness as that ; and I can claim nothing more for my 
self than the credit of having been true to my trust. You 
said yesterday, love, in the Myrtle Room, that the one faith 
ful friend to you in your blindness, who never failed, was 
your wife. It is reward enough and consolation enough for 
me, now that the worst is over, to know that you can say so 
still." 

" Yes, Rosamond, the worst is over ; but we must not for 
get that there may be hard trials still to meet." 

" Hard trials, love ? To what trials do you refer ?" 

" Perhaps, Rosamond, I overrate the courage that the sac 
rifice demands ; but, to me at least, it will be a hard sacrifice 
of my own feelings to make strangers partakers in the knowl 
edge that we now possess." 

Rosamond looked at her husband in astonishment. " Why 
need we tell the Secret to any one ?" she asked. 

" Assuming that we can satisfy ourselves of the genuine 
ness of that letter," he answered, " we shall have no choice 
but to tell it to strangers. You can not forget the circum 
stances under which your father under which Captain Trev- 
erton " 

" Call him my father," said Rosamond, sadly. " Remem 
ber how he loved me, and how I loved him, and say my fa 
ther still." 

" I am afraid I must say * Captain Treverton now," return 
ed Leonard, " or I shall hardly be able to explain simply and 
plainly what it is very necessary that you should know. Cap 
tain Treverton died without leaving a will. His only proper 
ty was the purchase-money of this house and estate ; and you 
inherited it, as his next of kin " 

Rosamond started back in her chair and clasped her hands 
in dismay. " Oh, Lenny," she said simply, " I have thought 
so much of you, since I found the letter, that I never remem 
bered this !" 

" It is time to remember it, my love. If you are not Cap 
tain Treverton s daughter, you have no right to one farthing 



THE DEAD SECRET. 289 

of the fortune that you possess ; and it must be restored at 
once to the person who is Captain Treverton s next of kin 
or, in other words, to his brother." 

" To that man !" exclaimed Rosamond. " To that man 
who is a stranger to us, who holds our very name in con 
tempt ! Are we to be made poor that he may be made 
rich ? " 

"We are to do what is honorable and just, at any sacrifice 
of our own interests and ourselves," said Leonard, firmly. "I 
believe, Rosamond, that my consent, as your husband, is 
necessary, according to the law, to effect this restitution. If 
Mr. Andrew Treverton was the bitterest enemy I had on 
earth, and if the restoring of this money utterly ruined us 
both in our worldly circumstances, I would give it back of 
my own accord to the last farthing and so would you !" 

The blood mantled in his cheeks as he spoke. Rosamond 
looked at him admiringly in silence. " Who would have 
him less proud," she thought, fondly, " when his pride speaks 
in such words as those !" 

" You understand now," continued Leonard, " that we have 
duties to perform which will oblige us to seek help from 
others, and which will therefore render it impossible to keep 
the Secret to- ourselves ? If we search all England for her, 
Sarah Leeson must be found. Our future actions depend 
upon her answers to our inquiries, upon her testimony to the 
genuineness of that letter. Although I am resolved before 
hand to shield myself behind no technical quibbles and delays 
although I want nothing but evidence that is morally con 
clusive, however legally imperfect it may be it is still im 
possible to proceed without seeking advice immediately. 
The lawyer who always managed Captain Treverton s affairs, 
and who now manages ours, is the proper person to direct 
us in instituting a search, and to assist us, if necessary, in 
making the restitution." 

" How quietly and firmly you speak of it, Lenny ! Will 
not the abandoning of my fortune be a dreadful loss to us?" 

" We must think of it as a gain to our consciences, Rosa 
mond, and must alter our way of life resignedly to suit our 
altered means. But we need speak no more of that until we 
are assured of the necessity of restoring the money. My im 
mediate anxiety, and your immediate anxiety, must turn now 



290 THE DEAD SECRET. 

on the discovery of Sarah Leeson no ! on the discovery of 
your mother ; I must learn to call her by that name, or I 
shall not learn to pity and forgive her." 

Rosamond nestled closer to her husband s side. " Every 
word you say, love, does my heart good," she whispered, 
laying her head on his shoulder. " You will help me and 
strengthen me, when the time comes, to meet my mother as I 
ought ? Oh, how pale and worn and weary she was when 
she stood by my bedside, and looked at me and my child ! 
Will it be long before we find her? Is she far away from 
us, I wonder? or nearer, much nearer than we think?" 

Before Leonard could answer, he was interrupted by a 
knock -at the door, and Rosamond was surprised by the ap 
pearance of the maid-servant. Betsey was flushed, excited, 
and out of breath; but she contrived to deliver intelligibly a 
brief message from Mr. Munder, the steward, requesting per 
mission to speak to Mr. Frankland, or to Mrs. Frankland, on 
business of importance. 

"What is it? What does he want?" asked Rosamond. 

" I think, ma am, he wants to know whether he had better 
send for the constable or not," answered Betsey. 

" Send for the constable !" repeated Rosamond. " Are 
there thieves in the house in broad daylight ?" 

"Mr. Munder says he don t know but what it may be 
worse than thieves," replied Betsey. " It s the foreigner 
again, if you please, ma am. He come up and rung at the 
door as bold as brass, and asked if he could see Mrs. Frank- 
land." 

" The foreigner !" exclaimed Rosamond, laying her hand 
eagerly on her husband s arm. 

" Yes, ma am," said Betsey. " Him as come here to go 
over the house along with the lady 

Rosamond, with characteristic impulsiveness, started to her 
feet. " Let me go down !" she began. 

" Wait," interposed Leonard, catching her by the hand. 
" There is not the least need for you to go down stairs. Show 
the foreigner up here," he continued, addressing himself to 
Betsey, " and tell Mr. Munder that we will take the manage 
ment of this business into our own hands." 

Rosamond sat down again by her husband s side. "This 
is a very strange accident," she said, in a low, serious tone. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 291 

" It must be something more than mere chance that puts the 
clew into our hands, at the moment when we least expected 
to find it." 

The door opened for the second time, and there appeared, 
modestly, on the threshold, a little old man, with rosy cheeks 
and long white hair. A small leather case was slung by a 
strap at his side, and the stem of a pipe peeped out of the 
breast pocket of his coat. He advanced one step into the 
room, stopped, raised both his hands, with his felt hat crumpled 
up in them, to his heart, and made -five fantastic bows in quick 
succession two to Mrs. Frankland, two to her husband, and 
one to Mrs. Frankland again, as an act of separate and special 
homage to the lady. Never had Rosamond seen a more 
complete embodiment in human form of perfect innocence 
and perfect harmlessness than the foreigner who was de 
scribed in the housekeeper s letter as an audacious vagabond, 
and who was dreaded by Mr. Munder as something worse 
than a thief! 

"Madam and good Sir," said the old man, advancing a 
little nearer at Mrs. Frankland s invitation, " I ask your par 
don for intruding myself. My name is Joseph Buschmann. 
I live in the town of Truro, where I work in cabinets and 
tea-caddies, and other shining woods. I am also, if you please, 
the same little foreign man who was scolded by the big 
major-domo when I came to see the house. All that I ask 
of your kindness is, that you will let me say for my errand 
here and for myself, and for another person who is very near 
to my love one little word. I will be but few minutes, 
Madam and good Sir, and then I will go my ways again, 
with my best wishes and my best thanks." 

"Pray consider, Mr. Buschmann, that our time is your 
time," said Leonard. " We have no engagement whatever 
which need oblige you to shorten your visit. I must tell 
you beforehand, in order to prevent any embarrassment on 
either side, that I have the misfortune to be blind. I can 
promise you, however, my best attention as far as listening 
goes. Rosamond, is Mr. Buschmann seated ?" 

Mr. Buschmann was still standing near the door, and was 
expressing sympathy by bowing to Mr. Frankland again, and 
crumpling his felt hat once more over his heart. 

"Pray come nearer, and sit down," said Rosamond. " And 



292 THE DEAD SECKET. 

don t imagine for one moment that any opinion of the 
steward s has the least influence on us, or that we feel it at 
all necessary for you to apologize for what took place the 
last time you came to this house. We have an interest a 
very great interest," she added, with her usual hearty frank 
ness, " in hearing any thing that you have to tell us. You 
are the person of all others whom we are, just at this time " 
She stopped, feeling her foot touched by her husband s, and 
rightly interpreting the action as a warning not to speak too 
unrestrainedly to the visitor before he had explained his ob 
ject in coming to the house. 

Looking very much pleased, and a little surprised also, 
when he heard Rosamond s last words, Uncle Joseph drew a 
chair near to the table by which Mr. and Mrs. Frankland 
were sitting, crumpled his felt hat up smaller than ever, and 
put it in one of his side pockets, drew from the other a little 
packet of letters, placed them on his knees as he sat down, 
patted them gently with both hands, and entered on his ex 
planation in these terms : 

" Madam and good Sir," he began, " before I can say com 
fortably my little word, I must, with your leave, travel back 
ward to the last time when I came to this house in company 
with my niece." 

"Your niece!" exclaimed Rosamond and Leonard, both 
speaking together. 

"My niece, Sarah," said Uncle Joseph, "the only child of 
my sister Agatha. It is for the love of Sarah, if you please, 
that I am here now. She is the one last morsel of my flesh 
and blood that is left to me in the world. The rest, they are 
all gone ! My wife, my little Joseph, my brother Max, my 
sister Agatha and the husband she married, the good and 
noble Englishman, Leeson they are all, all gone !" 

" Leeson," said Rosamond, pressing her husband s hand 
significantly under the table. " Your niece s name is Sarah 
Leeson?" 

Uncle Joseph sighed and shook his head. " One day," he 
said, " of all the days in the year the evilmost for Sarah, she 
changed that name. Of the man she married who is dead 
now, Madam it is little or nothing that I know but this: 
His name was Jazeph, and he used her ill, for which I think 
him the First Scoundrel ! Yes," exclaimed Uncle Joseph, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 293 

with the nearest approach to anger and bitterness which his 
nature was capable of making, and with an idea that he was 
using one of the strongest superlatives in the language 
" Yes ! if he was to come to life again at this very moment 
of time, I would say it of him to his face Englishman Ja- 
zeph, you are the First Scoundrel !" 

Rosamond pressed her husband s hand for the second time. 
If their own convictions had not already identified Mrs. Ja- 
zeph with Sarah Leeson, the old man s last words must have 
amply sufficed to assure them that both names had been 
borne by the same person. 

" Well, then, I shall now travel backward to the time when 
I was here with Sarah, my niece," resumed Uncle Joseph. 
"I must, if you please, speak the truth in this business, or, 
now that I am already backward where I want to be, I shall 
stick fast in my place, and get on no more for the rest of my 
life. Sir and good Madam, will you have the great kindness 
to forgive me and Sarah, my niece, if I confess that it was not 
to see the house that we came here and rang at the bell, and 
gave deal of trouble, and wasted much breath of the big 
major-domo s with the scolding that we got. It was only to 
do one curious little thing that we came together to this 
place or, no, it was all about a secret of Sarah s, which is 
still as black and dark to me as the middle of the blackest 
and darkest night that ever was in the world and as I 
nothing knew about it, except that there was no harm in it 
to any body or any thing, and that Sarah was determined to 
go, and that I could not let her go by herself; as also for 
the good reason that she told me she had the best right of 
any body to take the letter and to hide it again, seeing that 
she was afraid of its being found if longer in that room she 
left it, which was the room where she had hidden it before 
why, so it happened that I no, that she no, no, that I 
Ach Gott !" cried Uncle Joseph, striking his forehead in de 
spair, and relieving himself by an invocation in his own lan 
guage. " I am lost in my own muddlement ; and where 
abouts the right place is, and how I am to get myself back 
into it, as I am a living sinner, is more than I know !" 

"There is not the least need to go back on our account," 
said Rosamond, forgetting all caution and self-restraint in her 
anxiety to restore the old man s confidence and composure. 



294 THE DEAD SECRET. 

"Pray don t try to repeat your explanations. We know al 
ready 

" We will suppose," said Leonard, interposing abruptly be 
fore his wife could add another word, " that we know already 
every thing you can desire to tell us in relation to your 
niece s secret, and to your motives for desiring to see the 
house." 

"You will suppose that!" exclaimed Uncle Joseph, look 
ing greatly relieved. " Ah ! thank you, Sir, and you, good 
Madam, a thousand times for helping me out of my own mud- 
dlement with a Suppose. I am all over confusion from my 
tops to my toes ; but I can go on now, I think, and lose my 
self no more. So ! Let us say it in this way : I and Sarah, 
my niece, are in the house that is the first Suppose. I 
and Sarah, my niece, are out of the house that is the second 
Suppose. Good! now we go on once more. On my way 
back to my own home at Truro, I am frightened for Sarah, 
because of the faint she fell into on your stairs here, and be 
cause of a look in her face that it makes me heavy at my 
heart to see. Also, I am sorry for her sake, because she has 
not done that one curious little thing which she came into 
the house to do. I fret about these same matters, but I con 
sole myself too ; and my comfort is that Sarah will stop with 
me in my house at Truro, and that I shall make her happy 
and well again, as soon as we are settled in our life together. 
Judge, then, Sir, what a blow falls on me when I hear that 
she will not make her home where I make mine. Judge you, 
also, good Madam, what my surprise must be, when I ask for 
her reason, and she tells me she must leave Uncle Joseph, 
because she is afaid of being found out by you" He stop 
ped, and looking anxiously at Rosamond s face, saw it sadden 
and turn away from him after he had spoken his last words. 
" Are you sorry, Madam, for Sarah, my niece ? do you pity 
her ?" he asked, with a little hesitation and trembling in his 
voice. 

" I pity her with my whole heart," said Rosamond, warmly. 

" And with my whole heart, for that pity I thank you !" re 
joined Uncle Joseph. " Ah, Madam, your kindness gives me 
the courage to go on, and to tell you that we parted from 
each other on the day of our getting back to Truro ! When 
she came to see me this time, it was years and years, long 



THE DEAD SECRET. 295 

and lonely and very many, since we two had met. I was 
afraid that many more would pass again, and I tried to make 
her stop with me to the very last. But she had still the same 
fear to drive her away the fear of being found and put to 
the question by you. So, with the tears in her eyes (and in 
mine), and the grief at her heart (and at mine), she went 
away to hide herself in the empty bigness of the great city, 
London, which swallows up all people and all things that 
pour into it, and which has now swallowed up Sarah, my 
niece, with the rest. My child, you will write sometimes to 
Uncle Joseph, I said, and she answered me, I will write oft- ( 
en. It is three weeks now since that time, and here, on my 
knee, are four letters she has written to me. I shall ask your 
leave to put them down open before you, because they will 
help me to get on further yet with what I must say, and be 
cause I see in your face, Madam, that you are indeed sorry 
for Sarah, my niece, from your heart." 

He untied the packet of letters, opened them, kissed them 
one by one, and put them down in a row on the table, smooth 
ing them out carefully with his hand, and taking great pains 
to arrange them all in a perfectly straight line. A glance at 
the first of the little series showed Rosamond that the hand 
writing in it was the same as the handwriting in the body 
of the letter which had been found in the Myrtle Room. 

" There is not much to read," said Uncle Joseph. " But if 
you will look through them first, Madam, I can tell you after 
all the reason for showing them that I have." 

The old man was right. There was very little to read in 
the letters, and they grew progressively shorter as they be 
came more recent in date. All four were written in the for 
mal, conventionally correct style of a person taking up the 
pen with a fear of making mistakes in spelling and grammar,/ 
and were equally destitute of any personal particulars rela 
tive to the writer; all four anxiously entreated that Uncle 
Joseph would not be uneasy, inquired after his health, and 
expressed gratitude and love for him as warmly as their 
timid restraints of style would permit ; all four contained 
these two questions relating to Rosamond First, had Mrs. 
Frankland arrived yet at Porthgenna Tower? Second, if 
she had arrived, what had Uncle Joseph heard about her? 
And, finally, all four gave the same instructions for ad- 



29G THE DEAD SECRET. 

dressing an answer "Please direct to me, S. J., Post-office, 
Smith Street, London " followed by the same apology, 
"Excuse my not giving my address, in case of accidents; for 
even in London I am still afraid of being followed and found 
out. I send every morning for letters ; so I am sure to get 
your answer." 

" I told you, Madam," said the old man, when Rosamond 
raised her head from the letters, " that I was frightened and 
sorry for Sarah when she left me. Now see, if you please, 
why I got more frightened and more sorry yet, when I have 
all the four letters that she writes to me. They begin here, 
with the first, at my left hand; and they grow shorter, and 
shorter, and shorter, as they get nearer to my right, till the 
last is but eight little lines. Again, see, if you please. The 
writing of the first letter, here, at my left hand, is very fine 
I mean it is very fine to me, because I love Sarah, and be 
cause I write very badly myself; but it is not so good in 
the second letter it shakes a little, it blots a little, it crooks 
itself a little in the last lines. In the third it is worse more 
shake, more blot, more crook. In the fourth, where there is 
least to do, there is still more shake, still more blot, still more 
crook, than in all the other three put together. I see this ; I 
remember that she was weak and worn and weary when she 
left me, and I say to myself, She is ill, though she will not 
tell it, for the writing betrays her ! " 

Rosamond looked down again at the letters, and followed 
the significant changes for the worse in the handwriting, line 
by line, as the old man pointed them out. 

"I say to myself that," he continued; "I wait, and think 
a little ; and I hear my own heart whisper to me, Go you, 
Uncle Joseph, to London, and, while there is yet time, bring 
her back to be cured and comforted and made happy in your 
own home ! After that I wait, and think a little again not 
about leaving my business ; I would leave it forever sooner 
than Sarah should come to harm but about what I am to do 
to get her to come back. That thought makes me look at 
the letters again ; the letters show me always the same ques 
tions about Mistress Frankland ; I see it plainly as my own 
hand before me that I shall never get Sarah, my niece, back, 
unless I can make easy her mind about those questions of 
Mistress Frankland s that she dreads as if there was death to 



THE DEAD SECKET. 297 

her in every one of them. I see it ! it makes my pipe go out; 
it drives me up from my chair; it puts my hat on my head; 
it brings me here, where I have once intruded myself already, 
and where I have no right, I know, to intrude myself again ; 
it makes me beg and pray now, of your compassion for my 
niece and of your goodness for me, that you will not deny 
me the means of bringing Sarah back. If I may only say to 
her, I have seen Mistress Frankland, and she has told me with 
her own lips that she will ask none of those questions that 
you fear so much if I may only say that, Sarah will come 
back with me, and I shall thank you every day of my life for 
making me a happy man !" 

The simple eloquence of his words, the innocent earnest 
ness of his manner, touched Rosamond to the heart. " I will 
do any thing, I will promise any thing," she answered eager 
ly, " to help you to bring her back ! If she will only let me 
see her, I promise not to say one word that she would not 
wish me to say ; I promise not to ask one question no, not 
one that it will pain her to answer. "Oh, what comforting 
message can I send besides ? what can I say ?" She stopped 
confusedly, feeling her husband s foot touching hers again. 

" Ah, say no more ! say no more !" cried Uncle Joseph, 
tying up his little packet of letters, with his eyes sparkling 
and his ruddy face all in a glow. "Enough said to bring 
Sarah back ! enough said to make me grateful for all my life ! 
Oh, I am so happy, so happy, so happy my skin is too small 
to hold me !" He tossed up the packet of letters into the 
air, caught it, kissed it, and put it back again in his pocket, 
all in an instant. 

" You are not going ?" said Rosamond. " Surely you are 
not going yet ?" 

" It is my loss to go away from here, which I must put up 
with, because it is also my gain to get sooner to Sarah," re 
plied Uncle Joseph. "For that reason only, I shall ask your 
pardon if I take my leave with my heart full of thanks, and 
go my ways home again." 

" When do you propose to start for London, Mr. Busch- 
mann ?" inquired Leonard. 

"To-morrow, in the morning early, Sir," replied Uncle 
Joseph. " I shall finish the w^ork that I must do to-night, and 
shall leave the rest to Samuel (who is my very good friend, 



298 THE DEAD SECRET. 

and my shopman too), and shall then go to Sarah by the first 
coach." 

" May I ask for your niece s address in London, in case we 
wish to write to you ?" 

" She gives me no address, Sir, but the post-office ; for even 
at the great distance of London, the same fear that she had 
all the way from this house still sticks to her. But here is 
the place where I shall get my own bed," continued the old 
man, producing a small shop card. "It is the house of a 
countryman of my own, a fine baker of buns, Sir, and a very 
good man indeed." 

" Have you thought of any plan for finding out your niece s 
address?" inquired Rosamond, copying the direction on the 
card while she spoke. 

"Ah, yes for I am always quick at making my plans," 
said Uncle Joseph. " I shall present myself to the master 
of the post, and to him I shall say just this and no more 
1 Good -morning, Sir. I am the man who writes the letters 
to S. J. She is my niece, if you please ; and all that I want 
to know is Where does she live ? There is something like 
a plan, I think? Aha !" He spread out both his hands in 
terrogatively, and looked at Mrs. Frankland with a self-satis 
fied smile. 

" I am afraid," said Rosamond, partly amused, partly touch 
ed by his simplicity, " that the people at the post-office are 
not at all likely to be trusted with the address. I think you 
would do better to take a letter with you, directed to S. J. ; 
to deliver it in the morning when letters are received from 
the country ; to wait near the door, and then to follow the 
person who is sent by your niece (as she tells you herself) to 
ask for letters for S. J." 

" You think that is better ?" said Uncle Joseph, secretly 
convinced that his own idea was unquestionably the most 
ingenious of the two. " Good ! The least little word that 
you say to me, Madam, is a command that I follow with all 
my heart." He took the crumpled felt hat out of his pocket, 
and advanced to say farewell, when Mr. Frankland spoke to 
him again. 

" If you find your niece well, and willing to travel," said 
Leonard, " you will bring her back to Truro at once ? And 
you will let us know when you are both at home again ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 299 

" At once, Sir," said Uncle Joseph. " To both these ques 
tions, I say, At once." 

"If a week from this time passes," continued Leonard, 
"and we hear nothing from you, we must conclude, then, 
either that some unforeseen obstacle stands in the way of 
your return, or that your fears on your niece s account have 
been but too well-founded, and that she is not able to 
travel ?" 

" Yes, Sir ; so let it be. But I hope you will hear from me 
before the week is out." 

" Oh, so do I ! most earnestly, most anxiously !" said Rosa 
mond. " You remember my message ?" 

" I have got it here, every word of it," said Uncle Joseph, 
touching his heart. He raised the hand which Rosamond 
held out to him to his lips. " I shall try to thank you better 
when I have come back," he said. " For all your kindness to 
me and to my niece, God bless you both, and keep you happy, 
till we meet again." With these words, he hastened to the 
door, waved his hand gayly, with the old crumpled hat in it, 
and went out. 

" Dear, simple, warm-hearted old man !" said Rosamond, 
as the door closed. "I wanted to tell him every thing, 
Lenny. Why did you stop me ?" 

" My love, it is that very simplicity which you admire, and 
which I admire, too, that makes me cautious. At the first 
sound of his voice I felt as warmly toward him as you do ; 
but the more I heard him talk the more convinced I became 
that it would be rash to trust him, at first, for fear of his dis 
closing too abruptly to your mother that we know her secret. 
Our chance of winning her confidence and obtaining an in 
terview with her depends, I can see, upon our own tact in 
dealing with her exaggerated suspicions and her nervous 
fears. That good old man, with the best and kindest inten 
tions in the world, might ruin every thing. He will have 
done all that we can hope for, and all that we can wish, if he 
only succeeds in bringing her back to Truro." 

" But if he fails ? if any thing happens ? if she is really 
ill?" 

" Let us wait till the week is over, Rosamond. It will be 
time enough then to decide what we shall do next." 



300 THE DEAD SECRET. 



CHAPTER II. 

WAITING AND HOPING. 

THE week of expectation passed, and no tidings from Uncle 
Joseph reached Porthgenna Tower. 

On the eighth day Mr. Frankland sent a messenger to 
Truro, with orders to find out the cabinet-maker s shop kept 
by Mr.Buschinann, and to inquire of the person left in charge 
there whether he had received any news from his master. 
The messenger returned in the afternoon, and brought word 
that Mr. Buschmann had written one short note to his shop 
man since his departure, announcing that he had arrived 
safely tow r ard nightfall in London ; that he had met with a 
hospitable welcome from his countryman, the German baker; 
and that he had discovered his niece s address, but had been 
prevented from seeing her by an obstacle which he hoped 
would be removed at his next visit. Since the delivery of 
that note, no further communication had been received from 
him, and nothing therefore was known of the period at w r hich 
he might be expected to return. 

The one fragment of intelligence thus obtained was not of 
a nature to relieve the depression of spirits which the doubt 
and suspense of the past W 7 eek had produced in Mrs. Frank- 
land. Her husband endeavored to combat the oppression of 
mind from which she was suffering, by reminding her that 
the ominous silence of Uncle Joseph might be just as proba 
bly occasioned by his niece s unwillingness as by her inability 
to return with him to Truro. Remembering the obstacle at 
which the old man s letter hinted, and taking also into con 
sideration her excessive sensitiveness and her unreasoning 
timidity, he declared it to be quite possible that Mrs. Frank- 
land s message, instead of re- assuring her, might only in 
spire her with fresh apprehensions, and might consequently 
strengthen her resolution to keep herself out of reach of all 
communications from Porthgenna Tower. 

Rosamond listened patiently while this view of the case 
was placed before her, and acknowledged that the reasonable- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 301 

ness of it was beyond dispute ; but her readiness in admitting 
that her husband might be right and that she might be wrong 
was accompanied by no change for the better in the condition 
of her spirits. The interpretation which, the old man had 
placed upon the alteration for the worse in Mrs. Jazeph s 
handwriting had produced a vivid impression on her mind, 
which had been strengthened by her own recollection of her 
mother s pale, worn face when they met as strangers at West 
Winston. Reason, therefore, as convincingly as he might, 
Mr.Frankland was unable to shake his wife s conviction that 
the obstacle mentioned in Uncle Joseph s letter, and the si 
lence which he had maintained since, were referable alike to 
the illness of his niece. 

The return of the messenger from Truro suggested, besides 
this topic of discussion, another question of much greater im 
portance. After having waited one day beyond the week 
that had been appointed, what was the proper course of action 
for Mr. and Mrs. Frankland now to adopt, in the absence of 
any information from London or from Truro to decide their 
future proceedings ? 

Leonard s first idea was to write immediately to Uncle 
Joseph, at the address which he had given on the occasion of 
his visit to Portbgenna Tower. When this project was com 
municated to Rosamond, she opposed it, on the ground that 
the necessary delay before the answer to the letter could ar 
rive would involve a serious waste of time, when it might, 
for aught they knew to the contrary, be of the last impor 
tance to them not to risk the loss of a single day. If illness 
prevented Mrs. Jazeph from traveling, it would be necessary 
to see her at once, because that illness might increase. If 
she were only suspicious of their motives, it was equally im 
portant to open personal communications with her before 
she could find an opportunity of raising some fresh obstacle, 
and of concealing herself again in some place of refuge which 
Uncle Joseph himself might not be able to trace. 

The truth of these conclusions was obvious, but Leonard 
hesitated to adopt them, because they involved the necessity 
of a journey to London. If he went there without his wife, 
his blindness placed him at the mercy of strangers and serv 
ants, in conducting investigations of the most delicate and 
most private nature. If Rosamond accompanied him, it 

O 



302 THE DEAD SECRET. 

would be necessary to risk all kinds of delays and inconven 
iences by taking the child with them on a long and weari 
some journey of more than two hundred and fifty miles. 

Rosamond met both these difficulties with her usual direct 
ness and decision. The idea of her husband traveling any 
where, under any circumstances, in his helpless, dependent 
state, without having her to attend on him, she dismissed at 
once as too preposterous for consideration. The second ob 
jection, of subjecting the child to the chances and fatigues 
of a long journey, she met by proposing that they should 
travel to Exeter at their own time and in their own convey 
ance, and that they should afterward insure plenty of com 
fort and plenty of room by taking a carriage to themselves 
when they reached the railroad at Exeter. After thus smooth 
ing away the difficulties which seemed to set themselves in 
opposition to the journey, she again reverted to the absolute 
necessity of undertaking it. She reminded Leonard of the 
serious interest that they both had in immediately obtaining 
Mrs. Jazeph s testimony to the genuineness of the letter which 
had been found in the Myrtle Room, as well as in ascertain 
ing all the details of the extraordinary fraud which had been, 
practiced by Mrs. Treverton on her husband. She pleaded 
also her own natural anxiety to make all the atonement in 
her power for the pain she must have unconsciously inflicted, 
in the bedroom at West Winston, on the person of all others 
whose failings and sorrows she was most bound to respect ; 
and having thus stated the motives which urged her hus 
band and herself to lose no time in communicating personally 
with Mrs. Jazeph, she again drew the inevitable conclusion 
that there was no alternative, in the position in which they 
were now placed, but to start forthwith on the journey to 
London. 

A little further consideration satisfied Leonard that the 
emergency was of such a nature as to render all attempts to 
meet it by half-measures impossible. He felt that his own 
convictions agreed with his wife s ; and he resolved accord 
ingly to act at once, without further indecision or further 
delay. Before the evening was over, the servants at Porth- 
genna were amazed by receiving directions to pack the trunks 
for traveling, and to order horses at the post-town for an 
early hour the next morning. 



THE DEAD SECKET. 303 

On the first clay of the journey, the travelers started as 
soon as the carriage was ready, rested on the road toward 
noon, and remained for the night at Liskeard. On the sec 
ond day they arrived at Exeter, and slept there. On the 
third day they reached London by the railway, between six 
and seven o clock in the evening. 

When they were comfortably settled for the night at their 
hotel, and when an hour s rest and quiet had enabled them 
to recover a little after the fatigues of the journey, Rosa 
mond wrote two notes under her husband s direction. The 
first was addressed to Mr. Buschmann : it simply informed 
him of their arrival, and of their earnest desire to see him at 
the hotel as early as possible the next morning, and it con 
cluded by cautioning him to wait until he had seen them be 
fore he announced their presence in London to his niece. 

The second note was addressed to the family solicitor, Mr. 
Nixon the same gentleman who, more than a year since, 
had written, at Mrs. Frankland s request, the letter which in 
formed Andrew Treverton of his brother s decease, and of 
the circumstances under which the captain had died. All 
that Rosamond now wrote, in her husband s name and her 
own, to ask of Mr. Nixon, was that he would endeavor to 
call at their hotel on his way to business the next morning, 
to give his opinion on a private matter of great importance, 
which had obliged them to undertake the journey from 
Porthgenna to London. This note, and the note to Uncle 
Joseph, were sent to their respective addresses by a messen 
ger on the evening when they were written. 

The first visitor who arrived t^ie next morning was the so 
licitor a clear-headed, fluent, polite old gentleman, who had 
known Captain Treverton and his father before him. He 
came to the hotel fully expecting to be consulted on some 
difficulties connected with the Porthgenna estate, which the 
local agent was perhaps unable to settle, and which might 
be of too confused and intricate a nature to be easily ex 
pressed in writing. When he heard what the emergency 
really was, and when the letter that had been found in the 
Myrtle Room was placed in his hands, it is not too much to 
say that, for the first time in the course of a long life and a 
varied practice among all sorts and conditions of clients, 
sheer astonishment utterly paralyzed Mr. Nixon s faculties, 



304 THE DEAD SECRET. 

and bereft him for some moments of the power of uttering a 
single word. 

When, however, Mr. Frankland proceeded from making the 
disclosure to announcing his resolution to give up the pur 
chase-money of Porthgenna Tower, if the genuineness of the 
letter could be proved to his own satisfaction, the old law 
yer recovered the use of his tongue immediately, and pro 
tested against his client s intention with the sincere warmth 
of a man who thoroughly understood the advantage of being 
rich, and who knew what it was to gain and to lose a fortune 
of forty thousand pounds. 

Leonard listened with patient attention while Mr. Nixon 
argued from his professional point of view against regarding 
the letter, taken by itself, as a genuine document, and against 
accepting Mrs. Jazeph s evidence, taken with it, as decisive 
on the subject of Mrs. Frank! and s real parentage. He ex 
patiated on the improbability of Mrs. Treverton s alleged 
fraud upon her husband having been committed without oth 
er persons besides her maid and herself being in the secret. 
He declared it to be in accordance with all received experi 
ence of human nature that one or more of those other per 
sons must have spoken of the secret either from malice or 
from want of caution, and that the consequent exposure of 
the truth must, in the course of so long a period as twenty- 
two years, have come to the knowledge of some among the 
many people in the West of England, as well as in London, 
who knew the Treverton family personally or by reputation. 
From this objection he passed to another, which admitted 
the possible genuineness of the letter as a written document ; 
but which pleaded the probability of its having been pro 
duced under the influence of some mental delusion on Mrs. 
Treverton s part, which her maid might have had an interest 
in humoring at the time, though she might have hesitated, 
after her mistress s death, at risking the possible conse 
quences of attempting to profit by the imposture. Having 
stated this theory, as one which not only explained the writ 
ing of the letter, but the hiding of it also, Mr. Nixon further 
observed, in reference to Mrs. Jazeph, that any evidence she 
might give was of little or no value in a legal point of view, 
from the difficulty or, he might say, the impossibility of 
satisfactorily identifying the infant mentioned in the letter 



THE DEAD SECRET. >05 

with the lady whom he had now the honor of addressing as 
Mrs. Frankland, and whom no unsubstantiated document in 
existence should induce him to believe to be any other than 
the daughter of his old friend and client, Captain Treverton. 

Having heard the lawyer s objections to the end, Leonard 
admitted their ingenuity, but acknowledged at the same 
time that they had produced no alteration in his impression 
on the subject of the letter, or in his convictions as to the 
course of duty which he felt bound to follow. He would 
wait, he said, for Mrs. Jazeph s testimony before he acted de 
cisively ; but if that testimony were of such a nature, and 
were given in such a manner, as to satisfy him that his wife 
had no moral right to the fortune that she possessed, he 
would restore it at once to the person who had Mr. An 
drew Treverton. 

Finding that no fresh arguments or suggestions could 
shake Mr. Frankland s resolution, and that no separate ap 
peal to Rosamond had the slightest effect in stimulating her 
to use her influence for the purpose of inducing her husband 
to alter his determination ; and feeling convinced, moreover, 
from all that he heard, that Mr. Frankland would, if he was 
opposed by many more objections, either employ another 
professional adviser, or risk committing some fatal legal er 
ror by acting for himself in the matter of restoring the mon 
ey, Mr. Nixon at last consented, under protest, to give his 
client what help he needed in case it became necessary to 
hold communication with Andrew Treverton. He listened 
with polite resignation to Leonard s brief statement of the 
questions that he intended to put to Mrs. Jazeph ; and said, 
with the slightest possible dash of sarcasm, when it came to 
his turn to speak,, that they were excellent questions in a 
moral point of view, and would doubtless produce answers 
which would be full of interest of the most romantic kind. 
" But," lie added, " as you have one child already, Mr. Frank- 
land, and as you may, perhaps, if I may venture on suggest 
ing such a thing, have more in the course of years; and as 
those children, when they grow up, may hear of the loss of 
their mother s fortune, and may wish to know why it was 
sacrificed, I should recommend resting the matter on fam 
ily grounds alone, and not going further to make a legal 
point of it also that you procure from Mrs. Jazeph, besides 



306 THE DEAD SECRET. 

the viva voce evidence you propose to extract (against the 
admissibility of which, in this case, I again protest), a writ 
ten declaration, which you may leave behind you at your 
death, and which may justify you in the eyes of your chil 
dren, in case the necessity for such justification should arise 
at some future period." 

This advice was too plainly valuable to be neglected. At 
Leonard s request, Mr. Nixon drew out at once a form of 
declaration, affirming the genuineness of the letter addressed 
by the late Mrs. Treverton on her death-bed to her husband, 
since also deceased, and bearing witness to the truth of the 
statements therein contained, both as regarded the fraud 
practiced on Captain Treverton and the asserted parentage 
of the child. Telling Mr. Frankland that he w r ould do well 
to have Mrs. Jazeph s signature to this document attested 
by the names of two competent witnesses, Mr. Nixon handed 
the declaration to Rosamond to read aloud to her husband, 
and, finding that no objection was made to any part of it, 
and that he could be of no further use in the present early 
stage of the proceedings, rose to take his leave. Leonard en 
gaged to communicate with him again in the course of the 
day, if necessary; and he retired, reiterating his protest to 
the last, and declaring that he had never met with such an 
extraordinary case and such a self-willed client before in the 
whole course of his practice. 

Nearly an hour elapsed after the departure of the lawyer 
before any second visitor was announced. At the expira 
tion of that time, the welcome sound of footsteps was heard 
approaching the door, and Uncle Joseph entered the room. 

Rosamond s observation, stimulated by anxiety, detected 
a change in his look and manner the moment he appeared. 
His face was harassed and fatigued, and his gait, as he ad 
vanced into the room, had lost the briskness and activity 
which so quaintly distinguished it when she saw him, for the 
first time, at Porthgenna Tower. He tried to add to his 
first words of greeting an apology for being late; but Rosa 
mond interrupted him, in her eagerness to ask the first im 
portant question. 

" We know that you have discovered her address," she 
said, anxiously, "but w r e know nothing more. Is she as you 
feared to find her ? Is she ill ?" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 307 

The old man shook his head sadly. " When I showed you 
her letter," he said, "what did I tell you? She is so ill, 
Madam, that not even the message your kindness gave to 
me will do her any good." 

Those few simple words struck Rosamond s heart with a 
strange fear, which silenced her against her own will when 
she tried to speak again. Uncle Joseph understood the anx 
ious look she fixed on him, and the quick sign she made to 
ward the chair standing nearest to the sofa on which she and 
her husband were sitting. There he took his place, and there 
he confided to them all that he had to tell. 

He had followed, he said, the advice which Rosamond had 
given to him at Porthgenna, by taking a letter addressed to 
" S. J." to the post-office the morning after his arrival in Lon 
don. The messenger a maid-servant had called to inquire, 
as was anticipated, and had left the post-office with his let 
ter in her hand. He had followed her to a lodging-house in 
a street near, had seen her let herself in at the door, and had 
then knocked and inquired for Mrs. Jazcph. The door was 
answered by an old woman, who looked like the landlady ; 
and the reply was that no one of that name lived there. He 
had then explained that he wished to see the person for 
whom letters were sent to the neighboring post-office, ad 
dressed to "S. J.;" but the old woman had answered, in the 
surliest way, that they had nothing to do with anonymous 
people or their friends in that house, and had closed the door 
in his face. Upon this he had gone back to his friend, the 
German baker, to get advice ; and had been recommended to 
return, after allowing some little time to elapse, to ask if Jie 
could see the servant who waited on the lodgers, to describe 
his niece s appearance, and to put half a crown into the girl s 
hand to help her to understand what he wanted. He had 
followed these directions, and had discovered that his niece 
was lying ill in the house, under the assumed name of " Mrs. 
James." A little persuasion (after the present of the half- 
crown) had induced the girl to go up stairs and announce his 
name. After that there were no more obstacles to be over 
come, and he was conducted immediately to the room occu 
pied by his niece. 

He was inexpressibly shocked and startled when he saw 
her by the violent nervous agitation which she manifested 



308 THE DEAD SECRET. 

as he approached her bedside. But he did not lose heart 
and hope until he had communicated Mrs. Frankland s mes 
sage, and had found that it failed altogether in producing 
the re-assuring effect on her spirits which he had trusted 
and believed that it would exercise. Instead of soothing, it 
seemed to excite and alarm her afresh. Among a host of 
minute inquiries about Mrs. Frankland s looks, about her 
manner toward him, about the exact words she had spoken, 
all of which he was able to answer more or less to her satis 
faction, she had addressed two questions to him, to which he 
was utterly unable to reply. The first of the questions was, 
Whether Mrs. Frankland had said anything about the Secret? 
The second was, Whether she had spoken any chance word 
to lead to the suspicion that she had found out the situation 
of the Myrtle Room ? 

The doctor in attendance had come in, the old man added, 
while he was still sitting by his niece s bedside, and still try 
ing ineffectually to induce -her to accept the friendly and re 
assuring language of Mrs. Frankland s message. After mak 
ing some inquiries and talking a little while on indifferent 
matters, the doctor had privately taken him aside ; had in 
formed him that the pain over the region of the heart and the 
difficulty in breathing, which were the symptoms of which 
his niece complained, were more serious in their nature than 
persons uninstructed in medical matters might be disposed 
to think; and had begged him to give her no more messages 
from any one, unless he felt perfectly sure beforehand that 
they would have the effect of clearing her mind, at once and 
forever, from the secret anxieties that now harassed it 
anxieties which he might rest assured were aggravating her 
malady day by day, and rendering all the medical help that 
could be given of little or no avail. 

Upon this, after sitting longer with his niece, and after 
holding counsel with himself, he had resolved to write pri 
vately to Mrs. Frankland that evening, after getting back 
to his friend s house. The letter had taken him longer to 
compose than any one accustomed to writing would believe. 
At last, after delays in making a fair copy from many rough 
drafts, and delays in leaving his task to attend to his niece, 
he had completed a letter narrating what had happened 
since his arrival in London, in language which he hoped 



THE DEAD SECRET. 309 

might be understood. Judging by comparison of dates, this 
letter must have crossed Mr. and Mrs.Frankland on the road. 
It contained nothing more than he had just been relating 
with his own lips except that it also communicated, as a 
proof that distance had not diminished the fear which tor 
mented his niece s mind, the explanation she had given to 
him of her concealment of her name, and of her choice of an 
abode among strangers, when she had friends in London to 
whom she might have gone. That explanation it was per 
haps needless to have lengthened the letter by repeating, for 
it only involved his saying over again, in substance, what he 
had already said in speaking of the motive which had forced 
Sarah to part from him at Truro. 

With last words such as those, the sad and simple story of 
the old man came to an end. After waiting a little to re 
cover her self-possession and to steady her voice, Rosamond 
touched her husband to draw his attention to herself, and 
whispered to him 

"I may say all, now, that I wished to say at Porth- 
genna ?" 

"All," he answered. "If you can trust yourself, Rosa 
mond, it is fittest that he should hear it from your lips." 

After the first natural burst of astonishment was over, the 
effect of the disclosure of the Secret on Uncle Joseph exhib 
ited the most striking contrast that can be imagined to the 
effect of it on Mr. Nixon. No shadow of doubt darkened the 
old man s face, not a word of objection dropped from his lips. 
The one emotion excited in him was simple, unreflecting, un 
alloyed delight. He sprang to his feet with all his natural 
activity, his eyes sparkled again with all their natural bright 
ness; one moment he clapped his hands like a child; the 
next he caught up his hat, and entreated Rosamond to let 
him lead her at once to his niece s bedside. "If you w r ill 
only tell Sarah what you have just told me," he cried, hur 
rying across the room to open the door, " you will give her 
back her courage, you will raise her up from her bed, you will 
cure her before the day is out !" 

A warning word from Mr. Frankland stopped him on a 
sudden, and brought him back, silent and attentive, to the 
chair that he had left the moment before. 

" Think a little of what the doctor told yon," said Leonard. 

02 



310 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" The sudden surprise which has made you so happy might 
do fatal mischief to your niece. Before we take the responsi 
bility of speaking to her on a subject which is sure to agitate 
her violently, however careful we may be in introducing it, 
we ought first, I think, for safety s sake, to apply to the doc 
tor for advice." 

Rosamond warmly seconded her husband s suggestion, 
and, with her characteristic impatience of delay, proposed 
that they should find out the medical man immediately. 
Uncle Joseph announced a little unwillingly, as it seemed 
in answer to her inquiries, that he knew the place of the 
doctor s residence, and that he was generally to be found at 
home before one o clock in the afternoon. It was then just 
half-past twelve; and Rosamond, with her husband s approv 
al, rang the bell at once to send for a cab. 

She was about to leave the room to put on her bonnet, 
after giving the necessary order, when the old man stopped 
her by asking, with some appearance of hesitation and con 
fusion, if it was considered necessary that he should go to 
the doctor with Mr. and Mrs. Frankland ; adding, before the 
question could be answered, that he would greatly prefer, if 
there was no objection to it on their parts, being left to wait 
at the hotel to receive any instructions they might wish to 
give him on their return. Leonard immediately complied 
with his request, without inquiring into his reasons for mak 
ing it ; but Rosamond s curiosity was aroused, and she asked 
why he preferred remaining by himself at the hotel to going 
with them to the doctor. 

" I like him not," said the old man. " When he speaks 
about Sarah, he looks and talks as if he thought she would 
never get up from her bed again." Answering in those brief 
words, he walked away uneasily to the window, as if he de 
sired to say no more. 

The residence of the doctor was at some little distance, 
but Mr. and Mrs. Frankland arrived there before one o clock, 
and found him at home. He was a young man, with a mild, 
grave face, and a quiet, subdued manner. Daily contact with 
suffering and sorrow had perhaps prematurely steadied and 
saddened his character. Merely introducing her husband 
and herself to him, as persons who were deeply interested in 
his patient at the lodging-house, Rosamond left it to Leonard 



THE DEAD SECRET. 311 

to ask the first questions relating to the condition of her 
mother s health. 

The doctor s answer was ominously prefaced by a few 
polite words, which were evidently intended to prepare his 
hearers for a less hopeful report than they might have come 
there expecting to receive. Carefully divesting the subject 
of all professional technicalities, he told them that his patient 
was undoubtedly affected with serious disease of the heart. 
The exact nature of this disease he candidly acknowledged 
to be a matter of doubt, which various medical men might 
decide in various ways. According to the opinion which he 
had himself formed from the symptoms, he believed that the 
patient s malady was connected with the artery which con 
veys blood directly from the heart through the system. Hav 
ing found her singularly unwilling to answer questions re 
lating to the nature of her past life, he could only guess that 
the disease was of long standing ; that it was originally pro 
duced by some great mental shock, followed by long-wear 
ing anxiety (of which her face showed palpable traces) ; and 
that it had been seriously aggravated by the fatigue of a 
journey to London, which she acknowledged she had under 
taken at a time when great nervous exhaustion rendered her 
totally unfit to travel. Speaking according to this view of 
the case, it was his painful duty to tell her friends that any 
violent emotion would unquestionably put her life in danger. 
At the same time, if the mental uneasiness from which she 
was now suffering could be removed, and if she could be 
placed in a quiet, comfortable country home, among people 
who would be unremittingly careful in keeping her com 
posed, and in suffering her to want for nothing, there was 
reason to hope that the progress of the disease might be 
arrested, and that her life might be spared for some years to 
come. 

Rosamond s heart bounded at the picture of the future 
which her fancy drew from the suggestions that lay hidden 
in the doctor s last words. " She can command every ad 
vantage you have mentioned, and more, if more is required !" 
she interposed eagerly, before her husband could speak again. 
"Oh, Sir, if rest among kind friends is all that her poor weary 
heart wants, thank God we can give it !" 

" We can give it," said Leonard, continuing the sentence 



312 THE DEAD SECRET. 

for his wife, " if the doctor will sanction our making a com 
munication to his patient, which is of a nature to relieve her 
of all anxiety, but which, it is necessary to add, she is at 
present quite unprepared to receive." 

" May I ask," said the doctor, " who is to be intrusted 
with the responsibility of making the communication you 
mention ?" 

" There are two persons who could be intrusted with it," 
answered Leonard. " One is the old man whom you have 
seen by your patient s bedside. The other is my wife." 

"In that case," rejoined the doctor, looking at Rosamond, 
" there can be no doubt that this lady is the fittest person to 
undertake the duty." He paused, and reflected for a mo 
ment ; then added " May I inquire, however, before I vent 
ure on guiding your decision one way or the other, whether 
the lady is as familiarly known to my patient, and is on the 
same intimate terms with her, as the old man ?" 

" I am afraid I must answer No to both those questions," 
replied Leonard. " And I ought, perhaps, to tell you, at the 
same time, that your patient believes my wife to be now in 
Cornwall. Her first appearance in the sick-room would, I 
fear, cause great surprise to the sufferer, and possibly some 
little alarm as well." 

"Under those circumstances," said the doctor, "the risk 
of trusting the old man, simple as he is, seems to be infinitely 
the least risk of the two for the plain reason that his pres 
ence can cause her no surprise. However unskillfully he may 
break the news, he will have the great advantage over this 
lady of not appearing unexpectedly at the bedside. If the 
hazardous experiment must be tried and I assume that it 
must, from what you have said you have no choice, I think, 
but to trust it, with proper cautions and instructions, to the 
old man to carry out." 

After arriving at that conclusion, there was no more to be 
said on either side. The interview terminated, and Rosa 
mond and her husband hastened back to give Uncle Joseph 
his instructions at the hotel. 

As they approached the door of their sitting-room they 
were surprised by hearing the sound of music inside. On 
entering, they found the old man crouched upon a stool, 
listening to a shabby little musical box which was placed on 



THE DEAD SECRET. 313 

a table close by him, and which was playing an air that Ros 
amond recognized immediately as the " Batti, Batti " of 
Mozart. 

" I hope you will pardon me for making music to keep my 
self company while you were away," said Uncle Joseph, start 
ing up in some little confusion, and touching the stop of the 
box. " This is, if you please, of all my friends and compan 
ions, the oldest that is left. The divine Mozart, the king of 
all the composers that ever lived, gave it with his own hand, 
Madam, to my brother, when Max was a boy in the music 
school at Vienna. Since my niece left me in Cornwall, I 
have not had the heart to make Mozart sing to me out of 
this little bit of box until to-day. Now that you have made 
me happy about Sarah again, my ears ache once more for the 
tiny ting-ting that has always the same friendly sound to my 
heart, travel where I may. But enough so !" said the old 
man, placing the box in the leather case by his side, which 
Rosamond had noticed there when she first saw him at 
Porthgenna. "I shall put back my singing-bird into his 
cage, and shall ask, when that is done, if you will be pleased 
to tell me what it is that the doctor has said ?" 

Rosamond answered his request by relating the substance 
of the conversation which had passed between her husband 
and the doctor. She then, with many preparatory cautions, 
proceeded to instruct the old man how to disclose the dis 
covery of the Secret to his niece. She told him that the cir 
cumstances in connection with it must be first stated, not as 
events that had really happened, but as events that might be 
supposed to have happened. She put the words that he 
would have to speak into his mouth, choosing the fewest 
and the plainest that would answer the purpose; she showed 
him how he might glide almost imperceptibly from referring 
to the discovery as a thing that might be supposed, to re 
ferring to it as a thing that had really happened ; and she 
impressed upon him, as most important of all, to keep per 
petually before his niece s mind the fact that the discovery 
of the Secret had not awakened one bitter feeling or one re 
sentful thought toward her, in the minds of either of the 
persons who had been so deeply interested in finding it out. 

Uncle Joseph listened with unwavering attention until 
Rosamond had done; then rose from his seat, fixed his eyes 



314 THE DEAD SECRET. 

intently on her face, and detected an expression of anxiety 
and doubt in it which he rightly interpreted as referring to 
himself. 

"May I make you sure, before I go away, that I shall for 
get nothing ?" he asked, very earnestly. " I have no head to 
invent, it is true ; but I have something in me that can re 
member, and the more especially when it is for Sarah s sake. 
If you please, listen now, and hear if I can say to you over 
again all that you have said to me ?" 

Standing before Rosamond, with something in his look and 
manner strangely and touchingly suggestive of the long-past 
days of his childhood, and of the time when he had said his 
earliest lessons at his mother s knee, he now repeated, from 
first to last, the instructions that had been given to him, with 
a verbal exactness, with an easy readiness of memory, which, 
in a man of his age, was nothing less than ast onishing. 
" Have I kept it all as I should ?" he asked, simply, when he 
had come to an end. "And may I go my ways now, and 
take my good news to Sarah s bedside ?" 

It was still necessary to detain him, while Rosamond and 
her husband consulted together on the best and safest means 
of following up the avowal that the Secret was discovered 
by the announcement of their own presence in London. 

After some consideration, Leonard asked his wife to pro 
duce the document which the lawyer had drawn out that 
morning, and to write a few lines, from his dictation, on the 
blank side of the paper, requesting Mrs. Jazeph to read the 
form of declaration, and to affix her signature to it, if she felt 
that it required her, in every particular, to affirm nothing 
that was not the exact truth. When tliis had been done, 
and when the leaf on which Mrs. Frankland had written had 
been folded outward, so that it might be the first page to 
catch the eye, Leonard directed that the paper should be 
given to the old man, and explained to him what he was to 
do with it, in these words : 

"When you have broken the news about the Secret to 
your niece," he said, " and when you have allowed her full 
time to compose herself, if she asks questions about my wife 
and myself (as I believe she will), hand that paper to her for 
answer, and beg her to read it. Whether she is willing to 
sign it or not, she is sure to inquire how you came by it. 



THE DEAD SECKET. 315 

Tell her in return that you have received it from Mrs. Frank- 
land using the word received, so that she may believe at, 
first that it was sent to you from Porthgenna by post. If 
you find that she signs the declaration, and that she is not 
much agitated after doing so, then tell her in the same 
gradual way in which you tell the truth about the discovery 
of the Secret, that my wife gave the paper to you with her 
own hands, and that she is now in London " 

" Waiting and longing to see her," added Rosamond. 
"You, who forget nothing, will net, I am sure, forget to say 
that." 

The little compliment to his powers of memory made Uncle 
Joseph color with pleasure, as if he was a boy again. Prom 
ising to prove worthy of the trust reposed in him, and en 
gaging to come back and relieve Mrs. Frankland of all 
suspense before the day was out, he took his leave, and went 
forth hopefully on his momentous errand. 

Rosamond watched him from the window, threading his 
way in and out among the throng of passengers on the pave 
ment, until he was lost to view. How nimbly the light little 
figure sped away out of sight ! How gayly the unclouded 
sunlight poured down on the cheerful bustle in the street ! 
The whole being of the great city basked in the summer 
glory of the day ; all its mighty pulses beat high, and all its 
myriad voices whispered of hope ! 



CHAPTER III. 

THE STOEY OF THE PAST. 

THE afternoon wore away and the evening came, and still 
there were no signs of Uncle Joseph s return. 

Toward seven o clock, Rosamond was summoned by the 
nurse, who reported that the child was awake and fretful. 
After soothing and quieting him, she took him back with her 
to the sitting-room, having first, with her usual consideration 
for the comfort of any servant whom she employed, sent the 
nurse down stairs, with a leisure hour at her own disposal, 
after the duties of the day. " I don t like to be away from 
you, Lenny, at this anxious time," she said, when she rejoined 
her husband ; " so I have brought the child in here. He is 



316 THE DEAD SECKET. 

not likely to be troublesome again, and the having him to 
take care of is really a relief to me in our present state of 
suspense." 

The clock on the mantel-piece chimed the half-hour past 
seven. The carriages in the street were following one another 
more and more rapidly, filled with people in full dress, on 
their way to dinner, or on their way to the opera. The hawk 
ers were shouting proclamations of news in the neighboring 
square, with the second editions of the evening papers under 
their arms. People who had been serving behind the coun 
ter all day were standing at the shop door to get a breath 
of fresh air. Working men were trooping homeward, now 
singly, now together, in w r eary, shambling gangs. Idlers, 
who had come out after dinner, were lighting cigars at cor 
ners of streets, and looking about them, uncertain which way 
they should turn their steps next. It was just that transi 
tional period of the evening at which the street-life of the 
day is almost over, and the street-life of the night has not 
quite begun just the time, also, at which Rosamond, after 
vainly trying to find relief from the weariness of waiting by 
looking out of w r indow, was becoming more and more deep 
ly absorbed in her own anxious thoughts when her atten 
tion was abruptly recalled to events in the little world about 
her by the opening of the room door. She looked up im 
mediately from the child lying asleep on her lap, and saw 
that Uncle Joseph had returned at last. 

The old man came in silently, with the form of declaration 
which he had taken away with him, by Mr. Frankland s de 
sire, open in his hand. As he approached nearer to the win 
dow, Rosamond noticed that his face looked as if it had 
gro\vn strangely older during the few hours of his absence. 
He came close up to her, and still not saying a word, laid 
his trembling forefinger low down on the open paper, and 
held it before her so that she could look at the place thus in 
dicated without rising from her chair. 

His silence and the change in his face struck her with a 
sudden dread which made her hesitate before she spoke to 
him. "Have you told her all?" she asked, after a moment s 
delay, putting the question in low, whispering tones, and not 
heeding the paper. 

"This answers that I have," he said, still pointing to the 



THE DEAD SECRET. 317 

declaration. " See ! here is the name, signed in the place 
that was left for it signed by her own hand." 

Rosamond glanced at the paper. There indeed was the 
signature, " S. Jazeph ;" and underneath it were added, in 
faintly traced lines of parenthesis, these explanatory words 
" Formerly, Sarah Leeson." 

"Why don t you speak?" exclaimed Rosamond, looking at 
him in growing alarm. "Why don t you tell us how she 
bore it ?" 

" Ah ! don t ask me, don t ask me !" he answered, shrink 
ing back from her hand, as she tried in her eagerness to lay 
it on his arm. "I forgot nothing. I said the words as you 
taught me to say them I went the roundabout way to the 
truth with my tongue ; but my face took the short cut, and 
got to the end first. Pray, of your goodness to me, ask noth 
ing about it ! Be satisfied, if you please, with knowing that 
she is better and quieter and happier now. The bad is over 
and past, and the good is all to come. If I tell you how she 
looked, if I tell you what she said, if I tell you all that hap 
pened when first she knew the truth, the fright will catch me 
round the heart again, and all the sobbing and crying that I 
have swallowed down will rise once more and choke me. I 
must keep my head clear and my eyes dry or how shall I 
say to you all the things that I have promised Sarah, as I 
love my own soul and hers, to tell, before I lay myself down 
to rest to-night ?" He stopped, took out a coarse little cot 
ton pocket-handkerchief, with a flaring white pattern on a 
dull blue ground, and dried a few tears that had risen in his 
eyes while he was speaking. " My life has had so much hap 
piness in it," he said, self-reproachfully, looking at Rosa 
mond, "that my courage, when it is wanted for the time of 
trouble, is not easy to find. And yet, I am German ! all 
my nation are philosophers ! why is it that I alone am as soft 
in my brains, and as weak in my heart, as the pretty little 
baby there, that is lying asleep in your lap ?" 

" Don t speak again ; don t tell us any thing till you feel 
more composed," said Rosamond. "We are relieved from 
our worst suspense now that we know you have left her 
quieter and better. I will ask no more questions ; at least," 
she added, after a pause, " I will only ask one." She stopped ; 
and her eyes wandered inquiringly toward Leonard. He had 



318 THE DEAD SECRET. 

hitherto been listening with silent interest to all that had 
passed ; but he now interposed gently, and advised his "wife 
to wait a little before she ventured on saying any thing 
more. 

"It is such an easy question to answer," pleaded Rosa 
mond. " I only wanted to hear whether she has got my 
message whether she knows that I am waiting and longing 
to see her, if she will but let me come ?" 

" Yes, yes," said the old man, nodding to Rosamond with 
an air of relief. " That question is easy ; easier even than 
you think, for it brings me straight to the beginning of all 
that I have got to say." 

He had been hitherto walking restlessly about the room ; 
sitting down one moment, and getting up the next. He now 
placed a chair for himself midway between Rosamond who 
was sitting, with the child, near the window -and her hus 
band, who occupied the sofa at the lower end of the room. 
In this position, which enabled him to address himself alter 
nately to Mr. and Mrs. Frankland without difficulty, he soon 
recovered composure enough to open his heart unreservedly 
to the interest of his subject. 

" When the worst was over and past," he said, addressing 
Rosamond " when she could listen and when I could speak, 
the first words of comfort that I said to her were the words 
of your message. Straight she looked at me, with doubting, 
fearing eyes. Was her husband there to hear her? she says. 
Did he look angry ? did he look sorry ? did he change ever 
so little, when you got that message from her ? And I said, 
No; no change, no anger, no sorrow nothing like it. And 
she said again: Has it made between them no misery? lias 
it nothing wrenched away of all the love and all the happi 
ness that binds them the one to the other? And once more 
I answer to that, No ! no misery, no wrench. See now ! I 
shall go my ways at once to the good wife, and fetch her 
here to answer for the good husband with her own tongue. 
While I speak those words there flies out over all her face a 
look no, not a look a light, like a sun-flash. While I can 
count one, it lasts ; before I can count two, it is gone ; the 
face is all dark again ; it is turned away from me on the pil 
low, and I see the hand that is outside the bed begin to 
crumple up the sheet. I shall go my ways, then, and fetch 



THE DEAD SECRET. 319 

the good wife, I say again. And she says, No, not yet. I 
must not see her, I dare not see her till she knows ; and 
there she stops, and the hand crumples up the sheet again, 
and softly, softly, I say to her, Knows what? and she an 
swers me, What I, her mother, can not tell her to her face, 
for shame. And I say, So, so, my child ! tell it not, then 
tell it not at all. She shakes her head at me, and wrings 
her two hands together, like this, on the bed-cover. I must 
tell it, she says. I must rid my heart of all that has been 
gnawing, gnawing, gnawing at it, or how shall I feel the 
blessing that the seeing her will bring to me, if my con 
science is only clear? Then she stops a little, and lifts up 
her two hands, so, and cries out loud, Oh, will God s mercy 
show me no way of telling it that will spare me before my 
child ! And I say, Hush, then ! there is a way. Tell it to 
Uncle Joseph, who is the same as father to you ! Tell it to 
Uncle Joseph, whose little son died in your arms; whose tears 
your hand wiped away, in the grief time long ago. Tell it, 
my child, to me ; and ./shall take the risk, and the shame (if 
there is shame), of telling it again. I, with nothing to speak 
for me but my white hair; I, with nothing to help me but 
my heart that means no harm I shall go to that good and 
true woman, with the burden of her mother s grief to lay be 
fore her; and, in my soul of souls I believe it, she will not 
turn away ! " 

He paused, and looked at Rosamond. Her head was bent 
down over her child; her tears were dropping slowly, one by 
one, on the bosom of his little white dress. Waiting a mo 
ment to collect herself before she spoke, she held out her 
hand to the old man, and firmly and gratefully met the look 
he fixed on her. "Oh, go on, go on!" she said. "Let me 
prove to you that your generous confidence in me is not mis 
placed." 

" I knew it was not, from the first, as surely as I know it 
now !" said Uncle Joseph. "And Sarah, when I had spoken 
to her, she knew it too. She was silent for a little ; she cried 
for a little ; she leaned over from the pillow and kissed me 
here, on my cheek, as I sat by the bedside ; and then she 
looked back, back, back, in her mind, to the Long Ago, and 
very quietly, very slowly, with her eyes looking into my 
eyes, and her hand resting so in mine, she spoke the words to 



320 THE DEAD SECRET. 

me that I must now speak again to you, who sit here to-day 
as her judge, before you go to her to-morrow as her child." 

" Not as her judge !" said Rosamond. " I can not, I must 
not hear you say that." 

" I speak her words, not mine," rejoined the old man, grave 
ly. " Wait before you bid me change them for others wait 
till you know the end." 

He drew his chair a little nearer to Rosamond, paused for 
a minute or two to arrange his recollections, and to separate 
them one from the other; then resumed. 

"As Sarah began with me," he said, "so I, for my part, 
must begin also which means to say, that I go down now 
through the years that are past, to the time when my niece 
went out to her first service. You know that the sea-captain, 
the brave and good man Treverton, took for his wife an art 
ist on the stage what they call play-actress here ? A grand, 
big woman, and a handsome ; with a life and a spirit and a 
will in her that is not often seen ; a woman of the sort who 
can say, We will do this thing, or that thing and do it in 
the spite and face of all the scruples, all the obstacles, all the 
oppositions in the world. To this lady there comes for maid 
to wait upon her, Sarah, my niece a young girl then, pretty 
and kind and gentle, and very, very shy. Out of many oth 
ers who want the place, and who are bolder and bigger and 
quicker girls, Mistress Treverton, nevertheless, picks Sarah. 
This is strange, but it is stranger yet that Sarah, on her part, 
when she comes out of her first fears and doubts, and pains 
of shyness about herself, gets to be fond with all her heart 
of that grand and handsome mistress, who has a life and a 
spirit and a will of the sort that is not often seen. This is 
strange to say, but it is also, as I know from Sarah s own 
lips, every word of it true." 

"True beyond a doubt," said Leonard. "Most strong at 
tachments are formed between people who are unlike each 
other." 

" So the life they led in that ancient house of Porthgenna 
began happily for them all," continued the old man. "The 
love that the mistress had for her husband was so full in her 
heart that it overflowed in kindness to every body who was 
about her, and to Sarah, her maid, before all the rest. She 
would have nobody but Sarah to read to her, to work for 



THE DEAD SECRET. 321 

her, to dress her in the morning and the evening, and to un 
dress her at night. She was as familiar as a sister might 
have been with Sarah, when they two were alone, in the long 
days of rain. It was the game of her idle time the laugh 
that she liked most to astonish the poor country maid, who 
had never so much as seen what a theatre s inside was like, 
by dressing in fine clothes, and painting her face, and speak 
ing and doing all that she had done on the theatre-scene in 
the days that were before her marriage. The more she puz 
zled Sarah with these jokes and pranks of masquerade, the 
better she Avas always pleased. For a year this easy, happy 
life went on in the ancient house happy for all the servants 
happier still for the master and mistress, but for the want 
of one thing to make the whole complete, one little blessing 
that was always hoped for, and that never came the same, 
if you please, as the blessing in the long white frock, with 
the plump, delicate face and the tiny arms, that I see before 
me now." 

He paused, to point the allusion by nodding and smiling 
at the child in Rosamond s lap ; then resumed. 

"As the new year gets on," he said, "Sarah sees in the 
mistress a change. The good sea-captain is a man who loves 
children, and is fond of getting to the house all the little 
boys and girls of his friends round about. He plays with 
them, he kisses them, he makes them presents he is the best 
friend the little boys and girls have ever had. The mistress, 
who should be their best friend too, looks on and says noth 
ing looks on, red sometimes, and sometimes pale ; goes away 
into her room where Sarah is at work for her, and walks 
about and finds fault ; and one day lets the evil temper fly 
out of her at her tongue, and says, Why have I got no child 
for my husband to be fond of? Why must he kiss and play 
always with the children of other women ? They take his 
love away for something that is not mine. I hate those 
children and their mothers too ! It is her passion that 
speaks then, but it speaks what is near the truth for all that. 
She will not make friends with any of those mothers; the 
ladies she is familiar-fond with are the ladies who have no 
children, or the ladies whose families are all upgrown. You 
think that was wrong of the mistress ?" 

He put the question to Rosamond, who was toying thought- 



322 THE DEAD SECKET. 

fully with one of the baby s hands which was resting in hers. 
"I think Mrs. Treverton was very much to be pitied," she 
answered, gently lifting the child s hand to her lips. 

" Then I, for ray part, think so too," said Uncle Joseph. 
" To be pitied ? yes ! To be more pitied some months after, 
when there is still no child and no hope of a child, and the 
good sea-captain says, one day, I rust here, I get old with 
much idleness ; I want to be on the sea again. I shall ask 
for a ship. And he asks for a ship, and they give it him; 
and he goes away on his cruises with much kissing and 
fondness at parting from his wife but still he goes away. 
And when he is gone, the mistress comes in again where 
Sarah is at work for her on a fine new gown, and snatches it 
away, and casts it down on the floor, and throws after it all 
the fine jewels she has got on her table, and stamps and cries 
with the misery and the passion that is in her. I would 
give all those fine things, and go in rags for the rest of my 
life, to have a child ! she says. I am losing my husband s 
love : he would never have gone away from me if I had 
brought him a child ! Then she looks in the glass, and says 
between her teeth, Yes! yes! I am a fine woman, with a 
fine figure, and I would change places with the ugliest, crook- 
edest wretch in all creation, if I could only have a child ! 
And then she tells Sarah that the Captain s brother spoke 
the vilest of all vile words of her, when she was married, be 
cause she was an artist on the stage ; and she says, If I have 
no child, who but he the rascal-monster that I wish I could 
kill ! who but he will come to possess all that the Captain 
has got ? And then she cries again, and says, * I am losing 
his love ah, I know it, I know it ! I am losing his love! 
Nothing that Sarah can say will alter her thoughts about 
that. And the months go on, and the sea-captain comes 
back, and still there is always the same secret grief growing 
and growing in the mistress s heart growing and growing 
till it is now the third year since the marriage, and there is no 
hope yet of a child ; and once more the sea-captain gets tired 
on the land, and goes off again for his cruises long cruises, 
this time ; away, away, away, at the other end of the world." 

Here Uncle Joseph paused once more, apparently hesitating 
a little about how he should go on with the narrative. His 
inind seemed to be soon relieved of its doubts, but his face 



T1IE DEAD SECRET. 323 

saddened, and his tones sank lower, when he addressed Ros 
amond again. 

" I must, if you please, go away from the mistress now," 
he said, " and get back to Sarah, my niece, and say one word 
also of a mining man, with the Cornish name of Polwheal. 
This was a young man that worked well and got good 
wage, and kept a good character. He lived with his mother 
in the little village that is near the ancient house ; and, 
seeing Sarah from time to time, took much fancy to her, and 
she to him. So the end came that the marriage-promise was 
between them given and taken ; as it happened, about the 
time when the sea-captain was back after his first cruises, 
and just when he was thinking of going away in a ship 
again. Against the marriage-promise nor he nor the lady 
his wife had a word to object, for the miner, Polwheal, had 
good wage and kept a good character. Only the mistress 
said that the loss of Sarah would be sad to her very sad ; 
and Sarah answered that there was yet no hurry to part. 
So the weeks go on, and the sea-captain sails away again for 
his long cruises ; and about the same time also the mistress 
finds out that Sarah frets, and looks not like herself, and that 
the miner, Polwheal, he lurks here and lurks there, round 
about the house ; and she says to herself, * So ! so ! Am I 
standing too much in the way of this marriage ? For Sarah s 
sake, that shall not be ! And she calls for them both one 
evening, and talks to them kindly, and sends away to put 
up the banns next morning the young man Polwheal. That 
night, it is his turn to go down into the Porthgenna mine, 
and work after the hours of the day. With his heart all 
light, down into that dark he goes. When he rises to the 
world again, it is the dead body of him that is drawn up 
the dead body, with all the young life, by the fall of a rock, 
crushed out in a moment. The news flies here ; the news 
flies there. With no break, with no warning, with no com 
fort near, it comes on a sudden to Sarah, my niece. When 
to her sweet-heart that evening she had said good-by, she 
was a young, pretty girl ; when, six little weeks after, she, 
from the sick-bed where the shock threw her, got up, all her 
youth was gone, all her hair was gray, and in her eyes the 
fright-look was fixed that has never left them since." 

The simple words drew the picture of the miner s death, 



324 THE DEAD SECRET. 

and of all that followed it, with a startling distinctness 
with a fearful reality. Rosamond shuddered, and looked at 
her husband. " Oh, Lenny !" she murmured, " the first news 
of your blindness was a sore trial to me but what was it to 
this !" 

" Pity her !" said the old man. " Pity her for what she 
suffered then ! Pity her for what came after, that was worse ! 
Yet five, six, seven weeks pass, after the death of the mining 
man, and Sarah in the body suffers less, but in the mind suf 
fers more. The mistress, who is kind and good to her as 
any sister could be, finds out, little by little, something in 
her face which is not the pain-look, nor the fright-look, nor 
the grief-look; something which the eyes can see, but which 
the tongue can not put into words. She looks and thinks, 
looks and thinks, till there steals into her mind a doubt 
which makes her tremble at herself, which drives her straight 
forward into Sarah s room, which sets her eyes searching 
through and through Sarah to her inmost heart. There is 
something on your mind besides your grief for the dead and 
gone, she says, and catches Sarah by both the arms before 
she can turn way, and looks her in the face, front to front, 
with curious eyes that search and suspect steadily. The 
miner man, Polwheal, she says ; my mind misgives me about 
the miner man, Polwheal. Sarah ! I have been more friend 
to you than mistress. As your friend I ask you now tell 
me all the truth? The question waits; but no word of an 
swer ! only Sarah struggles to get aw r ay, and the mistress 
holds her tighter yet, and goes on and says, I know that the 
marriage-promise passed between you and miner Polwheal; 
I know that if ever there was truth in man, there was truth 
in him ; I know that he went out from this place to put the 
banns up, for you and for him, in the church. Have se 
crets from all the world besides, Sarah, but have none from 
me. Tell me, this minute tell me the truth ! Of all the lost 
creatures in this big, wide world, are you ? Before she 
can say the words that are next to come, Sarah falls on her 
knees, and cries out suddenly to be let go away to hide and 
die, and be heard of no more. That was all the answer she 
gave. It was enough for the truth then ; it is enough for 
the truth now." 

He sighed bitterly, and ceased speaking for a little while. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 325 

No voice broke the reverent silence that followed his last 
words. The one living sound that stirred in the stillness of 
the room was the light breathing of the child as he lay 
asleep in his mother s arms. 

"That was all the answer," repeated the old man, "and 
the mistress who heard it says nothing for some time after, 
but still looks straight forward into Sarah s face, and grows 
paler and paler the longer she looks paler and paler, till on 
a sudden she starts, and at one flash the red flies back into 
her face. No, she says, whispering and looking at the door, 
once your friend, Sarah, always your friend. Stay in this 
house, keep your own counsel, do as I bid you, and leave the 
rest to me. And with that she turns round quick on her 
heel, and falls to walking up and down the room faster, 
faster, faster, till she is out of breath. Then she pulls the 
bell with an angry jerk, and calls out loud at the door 
The horses ! I want to ride ; then turns upon Sarah My 
gown for riding in ! Pluck up your heart, poor creature ! 
On my life and honor, I will save you. My gown, my gown, 
then ; I am mad for a gallop in the open air ! And she goes 
out, in a fever of the blood, and gallops, gallops, till the horse 
reeks again, and the groom-man who rides after her wonders 
if she is mad. When she comes back, for all that ride in the 
air, she is not tired. The whole evening after, she is now 
walking about the room, and now striking loud tunes all 
mixed up together on the piano. At the bed-time, she can 
not rest. Twice, three times in the night she frightens Sarah 
by coming in to see how she does, and by saying always 
those same words over again : Keep your own counsel, do 
as I bid you, and leave the rest to me. In the morning she 
lies late, sleeps, gets up very pale and quiet, and says to 
Sarah, No word more between us two of what happened 
yesterday no word till the time comes when you fear the 
eyes of every stranger who looks at you. Then I shall speak 
again. Till that time let us be as we were before I put the 
question yesterday, and before you told the truth ! " 

At this point he broke the thread of the narrative again, 
explaining as he did so that his memory was growing con 
fused about a question of time, which he wished to state cor 
rectly in introducing the series of events that were next to 
be described. 

P 



326 THE DEAD SEC11ET. 

"Ah, well! well!" he said, shaking his head, after vain 
ly endeavoring to pursue the lost recollection. "For once, 
I must acknowledge that I forget. Whether it was two 
months, or whether it was three, after the mistress said those 
last words to Sarah, I know not but at the end of the one 
time or of the other she one morning orders her carriage 
and goes away alone to Truro. In the evening she comes 
back with two large flat baskets. On the cover of the one 
there is a card, and written on it are the letters S. L. On 
the cover of the other there is a card, and written on it are 
the letters 11. T. The baskets are taken into the mistress s 
room, and Sarah is called, and the mistress says to her, Open 
the basket with S. L. on it ; for those are the letters of your 
name, and the things in it are yours. Inside there is first a 
box, which holds a grand bonnet of black lace ; then a fine 
dark shawl ; then black silk of the best kind, enough to make 
a gown ; then linen and stuff for the under garments, all of 
the finest sort. Make up those things to fit yourself, says 
the mistress. You are so much littler than I, that to make 
the things up new is less trouble than, from my fit to yours, 
to alter old gowns. Sarah, to all this, says in astonishment, 
4 Why ? And the mistress answers, I will have no questions. 
Remember what I said Keep your own counsel, and leave 
the rest to me! So she goes out; and the next thing she 
does is to send for the doctor to see her. lie asks what is 
the matter; gets for answer that Mistress Treverton feels 
strangely, and not like herself; also that she thinks the soft 
air of Cornwall makes her weak. The days- pass, and the 
doctor comes and goes, and, say what he may, those two an 
swers are always the only two that he can get. All this 
time Sarah is at work ; and when she has done, the mistress 
says, Now for the other basket, with II. T. on it ; for those 
are the letters of my name, and the things in it are mine. 
Inside this, there is first a box which holds a common bonnet 
of black straw ; then a coarse dark shawl ; then a gown of 
good common black stuff; then linen, and other things for 
the under garments, that are only of the sort called sec 
ond best. 4 Make up all that rubbish, says the mistress, to 
fit me. No questions ! You have always done as I told you ; 
do as I tell you now, or you are a lost woman. When the 
rubbish is made up, she tries it on, and looks in the glass, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 327 

and laughs in a way that is wild and desperate to hear. 4 l)o 
I make a fine, buxom, comely servant-woman? she says. 
l lla! but I have acted that part times enough in my past 
days on the theatre-scene. And then she takes oft the clothes 
again, and bids Sarah pack them up at once in one trunk, and 
pack the things she has made for herself in another. The 
doctor orders mo to go away out of this damp, soft Cornwall 
climate, to where the air is fresh and dry and cheerful-keen, 
she says, and laughs again, till the room rings with it. At 
the same time Sarah begins to pack, and takes some knick- 
knack things oft the table, and among them a brooch which 
has on it a likeness of the sea-captain s face. The mistress 
sees her, turns white in the cheeks, trembles all over, snatches 
the brooch away, and locks it up in the cabinet in a great 
hurry, as if the look of it frightened her. I shall leave that 
behind me, she says, and turns round on her heel, and goes 
quickly out of the room. You guess now what the thing was 
that Mistress Treverton had it in her mind to do ?" 

He addressed the question to Rosamond first, and then re 
peated it to Leonard. They both answered in the aih rma- 
tive, and entreated him to go on. 

"You guess?" he said. "It is more than Sarah, at that 
time, could do. What with the misery in her own mind, and 
the strange ways and strange w r ords of her mistress, the wits 
that were in her were all confused. Nevertheless, what her 
mistress has said to her, that she has always done ; and togeth 
er alone those two from the house of Porthgenna drive away. 
Not a word says the mistress till they have got to the jour 
ney s end for the first day, and are stopping at their inn among 
strangers for the night. Then at last she speaks out. Tut 
you on, Sarah, the good linen and the good gown to-morrow, 
she says, but keep the common bonnet and the common 
shawl till we get into the carriage again. I shall put on the 
coarse linen and the coarse gown, and keep the good bonnet 
and shawl. We shall pass so the people at the inn, on our 
way to the carriage, without very much risk of sin-prising 
them by our change of gowns. When we are out on the road 
again, we can change bonnets and shawls in the carriage 
and then, it is all done. You arc the married lady, Mrs. 
Treverton, and I am your maid who waits on you, Sarah Lee- 
son. At that, the glimmering on Sarah s mind breaks in at 



328 TIIE DEAD SECRET. 

last : she shakes with the fright it gives her, and all she can 
say is, Oh, mistress ! for the love of Heaven, what is it you 
mean to do? I mean, the mistress answers, to save you, 
my faithful servant, from disgrace and ruin ; to prevent ev 
ery penny that the captain has got from going to that rascal- 
monster, his brother, who slandered me; and, last and most, 
I mean to keep my husband from going away to sea again, 
by making him love me as he has never loved me yet. Must 
I say more, you poor, afflicted, frightened creature or is it 
enough so? And all that Sarah can answer, is to cry bitter 
tears, and to say faintly, No. Do you doubt, says the 
mistress, and grips her by the arm, and looks her close in the 
face with fierce eyes Do you doubt which is best, to cast 
yourself into the world forsaken and disgraced and ruined, 
or to save yourself from shame, and make a friend of me for 
the rest of your life ? You w r eak, wavering, baby woman, if 
you can not decide for yourself, I shall for you. As I will, 
so it shall be ! To-morrow, and the day after that, w r e go 
on and on, up to the north, where my good fool of a doctor 
says the air is cheerful-keen up to the north, where nobody 
knows me or has heard my name. I, the maid, shall spread 
the report that you, the lady, are weak in your health. No 
strangers shall you see, but the doctor and the nurse, w r hen 
the time to call them comes. Who they may be, I know not ; 
but this I do know, that the one and the other will serve our 
purpose without the least suspicion of w r hat it is ; and that 
when we get back to Cornwall again, the secret between us 
two will to no third person have been trusted, and will remain 
a Dead Secret to the end of the world ! With all the strength 
of the strong will that is in her, at the hush of night and in 
a house of strangers, she speaks those words to the woman 
of all women the most frightened, the most afflicted, the most 
helpless, the most ashamed. What need to say the end? 
On that night Sarah first stooped her shoulders to the burden 
that has weighed heavier and heavier on them with every 
year, for all her after-life." 

"How many days did they travel toward the north?" 
asked Rosamond, eagerly. "Where did the journey end? 
In England or in Scotland ?" 

"In England," answered Uncle Joseph. "But the name 
of the place escapes my foreign tongue. It was a little town 



THE DEAD SECRET. 329 

by the side of the sea the great sea that washes between 
my country and yours. There they stopped, and there they 
waited till the time came to send for the doctor and the nurse. 
And as Mistress Treverton had said it should be, so, from 
the first to the last, it was. The doctor and the nurse, and 
the people of the house w r ere all strangers ; and to this day, 
if they still live, they believe that Sarah was the sea-captain s 
wife, and that Mistress Treverton was the maid who waited 
on her. Not till they were far back on their way home with 
the child did the two change gowns again, and return each 
to her proper place. The first friend at Porthgenna that the 
mistress sends for to show the child to, when she gets back, 
is the doctor who lives there. Did you think what was the 
matter with me, when you sent me away to change the air? 
she says, and laughs. And the doctor, he laughs too, and 
says, Yes, surely! but I was too cunning to say what I 
thought in those early days, because, at such times, there is 
always fear of a mistake. And you found the fine dry air 
so good for you that you stopped ? he says. c Well, that 
Avas right ! right for yourself and right also for the child. 
And the doctor laughs again and the mistress with him, and 
Sarah, who stands by and hears them, feels as if her heart 
would burst within her, with the horror, and the misery, and 
the shame of that deceit. When the doctor s back is turned, 
she goes down on her knees, and begs and prays with all her 
soul that the mistress will repent, and send her away with 
her child, to be heard of at Porthgenna no more. The mis 
tress, with that tyrant-will of hers, has but four words of an 
swer to crive It is too late! Five weeks after, the sea- 

O 

captain comes back, and the Too late is a truth that no 
repentance can ever alter more. The mistress s cunning hand 
that has guided the deceit from the first, guides it always to 
the last guides it so that the captain, for the love of her and 
of the child, goes back to the sea no more guides it till the 
time when she lays her down on the bed to die, and leaves 
all the burden of the secret, and all the guilt of the confes 
sion, to Sarah to Sarah, who, under the tyranny of that ty 
rant-will, has lived in the house, for five long years, a stran 
ger to her own child !" 

" Five years !" murmured Rosamond, raising the baby 
gently in her arms, till his face touched hers. " Oh me ! five 



330 THE DEAD SECRET. 

long years a stranger to the blood of her blood, to the heart 
of her heart !" 

" And all the years after !" said the old man. " The lone 
some years and years among strangers, with no sight of the 
child that was growing up, with no heart to pour the story 
of her sorrow into the ear of any living creature, not even 
into mine ! Better, I said to her, when she could speak to 
me no more, and when her face was turned away again on 
the pillow a thousand times better, my child, if you had 
told the Secret ! Could I tell it, she said, * to the master 
who trusted me? Could I tell it afterward to the child, 
whose birth was a reproach to me ? Could she listen to the 
story of her mother s shame, told by her mother s lips ? How 
will she listen to it now, Uncle Joseph, when she hears it 
from you? Remember the life she has led, and the high 
place she has held in the world. How can she forgive me ? 
How can- she ever look at me in kindness again ? " 

"You never left her," cried Rosamond, interposing before 
he could say more "surely, surely, you never left her with 
that thought in her heart P 

Uncle Joseph s head drooped on his breast. " What words 
of mine could change it?" he asked, sadly. 

" Oh, Lenny, do you hear that ? I must leave you, and 
leave the babj^. I must go to her, or those last words about 
me will break my heart." The passionate tears burst from 
her eyes as she spoke ; and she rose hastily from her seat, 
with the child in her arms. 

" Not to-night," said Uncle Joseph. " She said to me at 
parting, *I can bear no more to-night; give me till the morn 
ing to get as strong as I can. " 

" Oh, go back, then, yourself!" cried Rosamond. " Go, for 
God s sake, without wasting another moment, and make her 
think of me as she ought ! Tell her how I listened to you, 
with my own child sleeping on my bosom all the time tell 
her oh, no, no ! words are too cold for it ! Come here, come 
close, Uncle Joseph (I shall always call you so now) ; come 
close to me and kiss my child her grandchild ! Kiss him on 
this cheek, because it has lain nearest to my heart. And now, 
go back, kind and dear old man go back to her bedside, and 
say nothing but that ./sent that kiss to her J" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 331 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE CLOSE OF DAY. 

THE night, with its wakeful anxieties, wore away at last ; 
and the morning light dawned hopefully, for it brought with 
it the promise of an end to Rosamond s suspense. 

The first event of the day was the arrival of Mr. Nixon, 
who had received a note on the previous evening, written by 
Leonard s desire, to invite him to breakfast. Before the law 
yer withdrew, he had settled with Mr. and Mrs. Frankland 
all the preliminary arrangements that were necessary to ef 
fect the restoration of the purchase-money of Porthgenna 
Tower, and had dispatched a messenger with a letter to Bays- 
water, announcing his intention of calling upon Andrew Trev- 
erton that afternoon, on private business of importance relat 
ing to the personal estate of his late brother. 

Toward noon, Uncle Joseph arrived at the hotel to take 
Rosamond with him to the house where her mother lay ill. 

He came in, talking, in the highest spirits, of the wonder 
ful change for the better that had been wrought in his niece 
by the affectionate message which he had taken to her on the 
previous evening. He declared that it had made her look 
happier, stronger, younger, all in a moment ; that it had given 
her the longest, quietest, sweetest night s sleep she had en 
joyed for years and years past; and, last, best triumph of all, 
that its good influence had been acknowledged, not an hour 
since, by the doctor himself. 

Rosamond listened thankfully, but it was with a w r andering 
attention, with a mind ill at ease. When she had taken leave 
of her husband, and when she and Uncle Joseph were out in 
the street together, there was something in the prospect of 
the approaching interview between her mother and herself 
which, in spite of her efforts to resist the sensation, almost 
daunted her. If they could have come together, and have 
recognized each other without time to think what should be 
first said or done on either side, the meeting would have been 
nothing more than the natural result of the discovery of the 



332 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Secret. But, as it was, the waiting, the doubting, the mourn 
ful story of the past, which had filled up the emptiness of the 
last day of suspense, all had their depressing effect on Rosa 
mond s impulsive disposition. Without a thought in her 
heart which was not tender, compassionate, and true toward 
her mother, she now felt, nevertheless, a vague sense of em 
barrassment, which increased to positive uneasiness the nearer 
she and the old man drew to their short journey s end. As 
they stopped at last at the house door, she was shocked to 
find herself thinking beforehand of what first words it would 
be best to say, of what first things it would be best to do, as 
if she had been about to visit a total stranger, whose favora 
ble opinion she wished to secure, and whose readiness to re 
ceive her cordially was a matter of doubt. 

The first person whom they saw after the door was opened 
was the doctor. He advanced toward them from a little 
empty room at the end of the hall, and asked permission to 
speak with Mrs. Frankland for a few minutes. Leaving Ros 
amond to her interview with the doctor, Uncle Joseph gayly 
ascended the stairs to tell his niece of her arrival, with an 
activity which might well have been envied by many a man 
of half his years. 

"Is she worse? Is there any danger in my seeing her?" 
asked Rosamond, as the doctor led her into the empty room. 

"Quite the contrary," he replied. "She is much better 
this morning; and the improvement, I find, is mainly due to 
the composing and cheering influence on her mind of a mes 
sage which she received from you last night. It is the dis 
covery of this which makes me anxious to speak to you now 
on the subject of one particular symptom of her mental con 
dition which surprised and alarmed me when I first discover 
ed it, and which has perplexed me very much ever since. 
She is suffering not to detain you, and to put the matter at 
once in the plainest terms under a mental hallucination of 
a very extraordinary kind, which, so far as I have observed 
it, affects her, generally, toward the close of the day, when 
the light gets obscure. At such times, there is an expres 
sion in her eyes as if she fancied some person had walked 
suddenly into the room. She looks and talks at perfect va 
cancy, as you or I might look or talk at some one who was 
really standing and listening to us. The old man, her uncle, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 333 

tells me that lie first observed this when she came to see 
him (in Cornwall, I think he said) a short time since. She 
was speaking to him then on private affairs of her own, when 
she suddenly stopped, just as the evening was closing in, 
startled him by a question on the old superstitious subject 
of the re-appearance of the dead, and then, looking away at a 
shadowed corner of the room, began to talk at it exactly 
as I have seen her look and heard her talk up stairs. Wheth 
er she fancies that she is pursued by an apparition, or wheth 
er she imagines that some living person enters her room at 
certain times, is more than I can say ; and the old man gives 
me no help in guessing at the truth. Can you throw any 
light on the matter?" 

" I hear of it now for the first time," answered Rosamond, 
looking at the doctor in amazement and alarm. 

"Perhaps," he rejoined, "she may be more communicative 
with you than she is with me. If you could manage to be 
by her bedside at dusk to-day or to-morrow, and if you think 
you are not likely to be frightened by it, I should very much 
wish you to -see and hear her, when she is under the influence 
of her delusion. I have tried in vain to draw her attention 
away from it, at the time, or to get her to speak of it after 
ward. You have evidently considerable influence over her, 
and you might therefore succeed where I have failed. In her 
state of health, I attach great importance to clearing her 
mind of every thing that clouds and oppresses it, and espe 
cially of such a serious hallucination as that which I have 
been describing. If you could succeed in combating it, you 
would be doing her the greatest service, and would be ma 
terially helping my efforts to improve her health. Do you 
mind trying the experiment ?" 

Rosamond promised to devote herself unreservedly to this 
service, or to any other which was for the patient s good. 
The doctor thanked her, and led the way back into the hall 
again. Uncle Joseph was descending the stairs as they came 
out of the room. "She is ready and longing to see you," he 
whispered in Rosamond s ear. 

" I am sure I need not impress on you again the very seri 
ous necessity of keeping her composed," said the doctor, 
taking his leave. " It is, I assure you, no exaggeration to 
say that her life depends on it." 

P2 



334 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Rosamond bowed to him in silence, and in silence followed 
the old man up the stairs. 

At the door of a back room on the second floor Uncle 
Joseph stopped. 

"She is there," he whispered eagerly. "I leave you to go 
in by yourself, for it is best that you should be alone with 
her at first. I shall walk about the streets in the fine warm 
sunshine, and think of you both, and come back after a little. 
Go in ; and the blessing and the mercy of God go with you !" 
He lifted her hand to his lips, and softly and quickly de 
scended the stairs again. 

Rosamond stood alone before the door. A momentary 
tremor shook her from head to foot as she stretched out her 
hand to knock at it. The same sweet voice that she had last 
heard in her bedroom at West Winston answered her now. 
As its tones fell on her ear, a thought of her child stole 
quietly into her heart, and stilled its quick throbbing. She 
opened the door at once and went in. 

Neither the look of the room inside, nor the view from the 
window ; neither its characteristic ornaments, nor its promi 
nent pieces of furniture ; none of the objects in it or about it, 
which would have caught her quick observation at other 
times, struck it now. From the moment when she opened 
the door, she saw nothing but the pillows of the bed, the 
head resting on them, and the face turned toward hers. As 
she stepped across the threshold, that face changed ; the eye 
lids drooped a little, and the pale cheeks were tinged sudden 
ly with burning red. 

Was her mother ashamed to look at her? 

The bare doubt freed Rosamond in an instant from all the 
self-distrust, all the embarrassment, all the hesitation about 
choosing her words and directing her actions which had fet 
tered her generous impulses up to this time. She ran to the 
bed, raised the worn, shrinking figure in her arms, and laid 
the poor weary head gently on her warm, young bosom. 
" I have come at last, mother, to take my turn at nursing 
you," she said. Her heart swelled as those simple words 
came from it her eyes overflowed she could say no more. 

"Don t cry!" murmured the faint, sweet voice timidly. 
" I have no right to bring you here and make you sorry. 
Don t, don t cry !" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 335 

" Oh, hush ! hush ! I shall do nothing but cry if you talk 
to me like that !" said Rosamond. " Let us forget that we 
have ever been parted eall me by my name speak to me 
as I shall speak to my own child, if God spares me to see 
him grow up. Say Rosamond, and oh, pray, pray tell 
me to do something for you !" She tore asunder passionate 
ly the strings of her bonnet, "and threw it from her on the 
nearest chair. " Look ! here is your glass of lemonade on 
the table. Say Rosamond, bring me my lemonade ! say it 
familiarly, mother I say it as if you knew that I was bound 
to obey you !" 

She repeated the words after her daughter, but still not 
in steady tones repeated them with a sad, wondering smile, 
and with a lingering of the voice on the name of Rosamond, 
as if it was a luxury to her to utter it. 

" You made me so happy with that message and with the 
kiss you sent me from your child," she said, when Rosamond 
had given her the lemonade, and was seated quietly by the 
bedside again. " It was such a kind way of saying that you 
pardoned me ! It gave me all the courage I wanted to speak 
to you as I am speaking now. Perhaps my illness has 
changed me but I don t feel frightened and strange with 
you, as I thought I should, at our first meeting after you 
knew the Secret. I think I shall soon get well enough to 
see your child. Is he like what you were at his age ? If 
he is, he must be very, very She stopped. " I may think 
of that," she added, after waiting a little, "but I had better 
not talk of it, or I shall cry too ; and I want to have done 
with sorrow now." 

While she spoke those words, while her eyes were fixed 
with wistful eagerness on her daughter s face, the whole in 
stinct of neatness was still mechanically at work in her weak, 
wasted fingers. Rosamond had tossed her gloves from 
her on the bed but the minute before; and already her 
mother had taken them up, and was smoothing them out 
carefully and folding them neatly together, all the while she 
spoke. 

" Call me mother again," she said, as Rosamond took the 
gloves from her and thanked her with a kiss for folding them 
up. "I have never heard you call me * mother till now 
never, never till now, from the day when you were born !" 



336 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Rosamond checked the tears that were rising in her eyes 
again, and repeated the word. 

" It is all the happiness I want, to lie here and look at yon, 
and hear you say that ! Is there any other woman in the 
world, my love, who has a face so beautiful and so kind as 
yours?" She paused and smiled faintly. "I can t look at 
those sweet rosy lips now," she said, "without thinking how 
many kisses they owe me !" 

" If you had only let me pay the debt before !" said Rosa 
mond, taking her mother s hand, as she was accustomed to 
take her child s, and placing it on her neck. " If you had 
only spoken the first time we met, when you came to nurse 
me ! How sorrowfully I have thought of that since ! Oh, 
mother, did I distress you much in my ignorance? Did it 
make you cry when you thought of me after that ?" 

"Distress me! All my distress, Rosamond, has been of 
my own making, not of yours. My kind, thoughtful love ! 
you said, * Don t be hard on her do you remember ? When 
I was being sent away, deservedly sent away, dear, for fright 
ening you, you said to your husband, Don t be hard on her! 
Only five words but, oh, what a comfort it was to me after 
ward to think that you had said them ! I did want to kiss 
you so, Rosamond, when I was brushing your hair. I had 
such a hard fight of it to keep from crying out loud* when I 
heard you, behind the bed-curtains, wishing your little child 
good-night. My heart was in my mouth, choking me all 
that time. I took your part afterward, when I went back to 
my mistress I wouldn t hear her say a harsh word of you. 
I could have looked a hundred mistresses in the face then, 
and contradicted them all. Oh, no, no, no ! you never dis 
tressed me. My worst grief at going away Avas years and 
years before I came to nurse you at West Winston. It was 
when I left my place at Porthgenna ; when I stole into your 
nursery on that dreadful morning, and when I saw you with 
both your little arms round my master s neck. The doll you 
had taken to bed with you was in one of your hands, and 
your head was resting on the Captain s bosom, just as mine 
rests now oh, so happily, Rosamond ! on yours. I heard 
the last words he was speaking to you words you were too 
young to remember. Hush ! Rosie, dear, he said, don t 
cry any more for poor mamma. Think of poor papa, and try 



THE DEAD SECRET. 337 

to comfort him ! There, my love there was the bitterest 
distress and the hardest to bear ! I, your own mother, stand 
ing like a spy, and hearing him say that to the child I dared 
not own ! Think of poor papa ! My own Rosamond ! you 
know, now, what father I thought of when he said those 
words ! How could I tell him the Secret? how could I give 
him the letter, with his wife dead that morning with no 
body but you to comfort him with the awful truth crush 
ing down upon my heart, at every word he spoke, as heavily 
as eve<r the rock crushed down upon the father you never 
saw !" 

" Don t speak of it now !" said Rosamond. " Don t let us 
refer again to the past : I know all I ought to know, all I 
wish to know of it. We will talk of the future, mother, and 
of happier times to come. Let me tell you about my hus 
band. If any words can praise him as he ought to be praised, 
and thank him as he ought to be thanked, I am sure mine 
ought I am sure yours will ! Let me tell you what he said 
and what he did when I read to him the letter that I found 
in the Myrtle Room. Yes, yes, do let me !" 

Warned by a remembrance of the doctor s last injunc 
tions ; trembling in secret, as she felt under her hand the 
heavy, toilsome, irregular heaving of her mother s heart, as 
she saw the rapid changes of color, from pale to red, and from 
red to pale again, that fluttered across her mother s face, she 
resolved to let no more words pass between them which were 
of a nature to recall painfully the sorrows and the suffering 
of the years that were gone. After describing the interview 
between her husband and herself which ended in .the disclos 
ure of the Secret, she led her mother, with compassionate ab 
ruptness, to speak of the future, of the time when she would 
be able to travel again, of the happiness of returning together 
to Cornwall, of the little festival they might hold on arriving 
at Uncle Joseph s house in Truro, and of the time after that, 
when they might go on still farther to Porthgenna, or per 
haps to some other place where new scenes and new faces 
might help them to forget all sad associations which it was 
best to think of no more. 

Rosamond was still speaking on these topics, her mother 
was still listening to her with growing interest in every word 
that she said, when Uncle Joseph returned. He brought in 



338 THE DEAD SECRET. 

with him a basket of flowers and a basket of fruit, which he 
held up in triumph at the foot of his niece s bed. 

" I have been walking about, my child, in the fine bright 
sunshine," he said, " and waiting to give your face plenty of 
time to look happy, so that I might gee it again as I want to 
see it always, for the rest of my life. Aha, Sarah ! it is I who 
have brought the right doctor to cure you !" he added gayly, 
looking at Rosamond. " She has made you better already. 
Wait but a little while longer, and she shall get you up from 
your bed again, with your two cheeks as red, and your heart 
as light, and your tongue as fast to chatter as mine. See 
the fine flowers and the fruit I have bought that is nice to 
your eyes, and nice to your nose, and nicest of all to put into 
your mouth ! It is festival-time with us to-day, and we must 
make the room bright, bright, bright, all over. And then, 
there is your dinner to come soon ; I have seen it on the dish 
a cherub among chicken-ftnvls ! And, after that, there is 
your fine sound sleep, with Mozart to sing the cradle song, 
and with me to sit for watch, and to go down stairs when 
you wake up again, and fetch your cup of tea. Ah, my child, 
my child, what a fine thing it is to have come at last to this 
festival-day !" 

With a bright look at Rosamond, and with both his hands 
full of flowers, he turned away from his niece to begin deco 
rating the room. Except when she thanked the old man for 
the presents he had brought, her attention had never wan 
dered, all the while he had been speaking, from her daughter s 
face ; and her first words, when he was silent again, were ad 
dressed to Rosamond alone. 

" While I am happy with my child," she said, " I am keep 
ing you from yours. I, of all persons, ought to be the last to 
part you from each other too long. Go back now, my love, 
to your husband and your child ; and leave me to my grate 
ful thoughts and my dreams of better times." 

"If you please, answer Yes to that, for your mother s sake," 
said Uncle Joseph, before Rosamond could reply. " The doc 
tor says she must take her repose in the day as well as her 
repose in the night. And how shall I get her to close her 
eyes, so long as she has the temptation to keep them open 
upon you . ? " 

Rosamond felt the truth of those last words, and consented 



THE DEAD SECRET. 339 

to go back for a few hours to the hotel, on the understanding 
that she was to resume her place at the bedside in the even 
ing. After making this arrangement, she waited long enough 
in the room to see the meal brought up which Uncle Joseph 
had announced, and to aid the old man in encouraging her 
mother to partake of it. When the tray had been removed, 
and when the pillows of the bed had been comfortably ar 
ranged by her own hands, she at last prevailed on herself to 
take leave. 

Her mother s arms lingered round her neck ; her mother s 
cheek nestled fondly against hers. " Go, my dear, go now, 
or I shall get too selfish to part with you even for a few 
hours," murmured the sweet voice, in the lowest, softest 
tones. " My own Rosamond ! I have no words to bless you 
that are good enough ; no words to thank you that will speak 
as gratefully for me as they ought ! Happiness has been 
long in reaching me but, oh, how mercifully it has come at 
last !" 

Before she passed the door, Rosamond stopped and looked 
back into the room. The table, the mantel-piece, the little 
framed prints on the wall were bright with flowers; the mu 
sical box was just playing the first sweet notes of the air 
from Mozart ; Uncle Joseph was seated already in his accus 
tomed place by the bed, with the basket of fruit on his knees ; 
the pale, worn face on the pillow was tenderly lighted up by 
a smile ; peace and comfort and repose, all mingled together 
happily in the picture of the sick-room, all joined in leading 
Rosamond s thoughts to dwell quietly on the hope of a hap 
pier time. 

Three hours passed. The last glory of the sun was light 
ing the long summer day to its rest in the western heaven, 
when Rosamond returned to her mother s bedside. 

She entered the room softly. The one window in it looked 
toward the west, and on that side of the bed the chair was 
placed which Uncle Joseph had occupied when she left him, 
and in which she now found him still seated on her return. 
He raised his fingers to his lips, and looked toward the bed, 
as she opened the door. Her mother was asleep, with her 
hand resting in the hand of the old man. 

As Rosamond noiselessly advanced, she saw that Uncle Jo- 



340 THE DEAD SECRET. 

seph s eyes looked dim and weary. The constraint of the 
position that he occupied, which made it impossible for him 
to move without the risk of awakening his niece, seemed to 
be beginning to fatigue him. Rosamond removed her bon 
net and shawl, and made a sign to him to rise and let her 
take his place. 

" Yes, yes !" she whispered, seeing him reply by a shake 
of the head. " Let me take my turn, while you go out a 
little and enjoy the cool evening air. There is no fear of 
waking her ; her hand is not clasping yours, but only resting 
in it let me steal mine into its place gently, and we shall 
not disturb her." 

She slipped her hand under her mother s while she spoke. 
Uncle Joseph smiled as he rose from his chair, and resigned 
his place to her. " You will have your way," he said ; "you 
are too quick and sharp for an old man like me." 

" Has she been long asleep ?" asked Rosamond. 

" Nearly two hours," answered Uncle Joseph. " But it has 
not been the good sleep I wanted for her a dreaming, talk 
ing, restless sleep. It is only ten little minutes since she has 
been so quiet as you see her now." 

" Surely you let in too much light ?" whispered Rosamond, 
looking round at the window, through which the glow of the 
evening sky poured warmly into the room. 

"No, no !" he hastily rejoined. "Asleep or awake, she al 
ways wants the light. If I go away for a little while, as you 
tell me, and if it gets on to be dusk before I come back, light 
both those candles on the chimney-piece. I shall try to be 
here again before that ; but if the time slips by too fast for 
me, and if it so happens that she wakes and talks strangely, 
and looks much away from you into that far corner of the 
room there, remember that the matches and the candles are 
together on the chimney-piece, and that the sooner you light 
them after the dim twilight-time, the better it will be." With 
those words he stole on tiptoe to the door and went out. 

His parting directions recalled Rosamond to a remembrance 
of what had passed between the doctor and herself that 
morning. She looked round again anxiously to the window. 

The sun was just sinking beyond the distant house-tops; 
the close of day was not far off. 

As she turned her head once more toward the bed, a mo- 



THE DEAD SECRET. 341 

mcntary chill crept over her. She trembled a little, partly 
at the sensation itself, partly at the recollection it aroused of 
that other chill which had struck her in the solitude of the 
Myrtle Room. 

Stirred by the mysterious sympathies of touch, her mother s 
hand at the same instant moved in hers, and over the sad 
pcacefulness of the weary face there fluttered a momentary 
trouble the flying shadow of a dream. The pale, parted lips 
opened, closed, quivered, opened again ; the toiling breath 
came and went quickly and more quickly; the head moved 
uneasily on the pillow ; the eyelids half unclosed themselves ; 
low, faint, moaning sounds poured rapidly from the lips 
changed ere lone: to half-articulated sentences then merged 

O O O 

softly into intelligible speech, and uttered these words : 

" Swear that you will not destroy this paper ! Swear that 
you will not take this paper away with you if you leave the 
house !" 

The words that followed these were whispered so rapidly 
and so low that Rosamond s ear failed to catch them. They 
were followed by a short silence. Then the dreaming voice 
spoke again suddenly, and spoke louder. 

"Where? where? where:" it said. "In the book-case? 
In the table-drawer? Stop! stop! In the picture of the 
ghost" 

The last words struck cold on Rosamond s heart. She 
drew back suddenly with a movement of alarm checked 
herself the instant after, and bent down over the pillow 
again. But it was too late. Her hand had moved abruptly 
when she drew back, and her mother awoke with a start and 
a faint cry with vacant, terror-stricken eyes, and with the 
perspiration standing thick on her forehead. 

"Mother !" cried Rosamond, raising her on the pillow. "I 
have come back. Don t you know me ?" 

"Mother?" she repeated, in mournful, questioning tones 
"Mother?" At the second repetition of the word a bright 
flush of delight and surprise broke out on her face, and she 
clasped both arms suddenly round her daughter s neck. "Oh, 
my own Rosamond !" she said. " If I had ever been used to 
waking up and seeing your dear face look at me, I should 
have known you sooner, in spite of my dream ! Did you 
wake me, my love ? or did I wake myself?" 



342 THE DEAD SECRET. 

" I am afraid I awoke you, mother." 

" Don t say afraid. I would wake from the sweetest sleep 
that ever woman had to see your face and to hear you say 
mother to me. You have delivered me, my love, from the 
terror of one of my dreadful dreams. Oh, Rosamond ! I think 
I should live to be happy in your love, if I could only get 
Porthgenna Tower out of my mind if I could only never 
remember again the bed-chamber where my mistress died, 
and the room where I hid the letter " 

" We will try and forget Porthgenna Tower now," said 
Rosamond. "Shall we talk about other places where I have 
lived, which you have never seen ? Or shall I read to yon, 
mother ? Have you got any book here that you are fond of?" 

She looked across the bed at the table on the other side. 
There was nothing on it but some bottles of medicine, a few 
of Uncle Joseph s flowers in a glass of water, and a little ob 
long work-box. She looked round at the chest of drawers 
behind her there were no books placed on the top of it. 
Before she turned toward the bed again, her eyes wandered 
aside to the window. The sun was lost beyond the distant 
house-tops; the close of day was near at hand. 

"If I could forget ! Oh, me, if I could only forget !" said 
her mother, sighing wearily, and beating her hand on the 
coverlid of the bed. 

"Are you well enough, dear, to amuse yourself with work?" 
asked Rosamond, pointing to the little oblong box on the 
table, and trying to lead the conversation to a harmless, 
every-day topic, by asking questions about it. "What work 
do you do ? May I look at it ?" 

Her face lost its weary, suffering look, and brightened once 
more into a smile. " There is no work there," she said. 
"All the treasures I had in the world, till you came to see 
me, are shut up in that one little box. Open it, my love, and 
look inside." 

Rosamond obeyed, placing the box on the bed where her 
mother could see it easily. The first object that she discov 
ered inside was a little book, in dark, worn binding. It was 
an old copy of Wesley s Hymns. Some withered blades of 
grass lay between its pages ; and on one of its blank leaves 
was this inscription " Sarah Leeson, her book. The gift of 
Hugh Polwheal." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 343 

" Look at it, my dear," said her mother. " I want you to 
know it again. When my time comes to leave you, Rosa 
mond, lay it on my bosom with your own dear hands, and 
put a little morsel of your hair with it, and bury me in the 
grave in Porthgenna church-yard, where he has been waiting 
for me to come to him so many weary years. The other 
things in the box, Rosamond, belong to you ; they are little 
stolen keepsakes that used to remind me of my child, when I 
was alone in the world. Perhaps, years and years hence, 
when your brown hair begins to grow gray like mine, you 
may like to show these poor trifles to your children when 
you talk about me. Don t mind telling them, Rosamond, 
how your mother sinned and how she suffered you can al 
ways let these little trifles speak for her at the end. The 
least of them will show that she always loved you." 

She took out of the box a morsel of neatly folded white 
paper, which had been placed under the book of Wesley s 
Hymns, opened it, and showed her daughter a few faded 
laburnum leaves that lay inside. "I took these from your 
bed, Rosamond, when I came, as a stranger, to nurse you at 
West Winston. I tried to take a ribbon out of your trunk, 
love, after I had taken the flowers a ribbon that I knew had 
been round your neck. But the doctor came near at the 
time, and frightened me." 

She folded the paper up again, laid it aside on the table, 
and drew from the box next a small print which had been 
taken from the illustrations to a pocket-book. It represented 
a little girl, in gypsy-hat, sitting by the water-side,- and weav 
ing a daisy chain. As a design, it was worthless ; as a print, 
it had not even the mechanical merit of being a good impres 
sion. Underneath it a line was written in faintly pencilled 
letters " Rosamond when I last saw her." 

" It was never pretty enough for you," she said. " But 
still there was something in it that helped me to remember 
what my own love was like when she was a little girl." 

She put the engraving aside with the laburnum leaves, 
and took from the box a leaf of a copy-book, folded in two, 
out of which there dropped a tiny strip of paper, covered 
with small printed letters. She looked at the strip of paper 
first. "The advertisement of your marriage, Rosamond," 
she said. " I used to be fond of reading it over and over 



344 THE DEAD SECRET. 

again to myself when I was alone, and trying to fancy how 
you looked and what dress you wore. If I had only known 
when you were going to be married, I would have ventured 
into the church, rny love, to look at you and at your husband. 
But that was not to be and perhaps it was best so, for the 
seeing you in that stolen way might only have made my 
trials harder to bear afterward. I have had no other keep 
sake to remind me of you, Rosamond, except this leaf out of 
your first copy-book. The nurse-maid at Porthgenna tore up 
the rest one day to light the fire, and I took this leaf when 
she was not looking. See ! you had not got as far as words 
then you could only do up-strokes and down-strokes. Oh 
me! how many times I have sat looking at this one leaf of 
paper, and trying to fancy that I saw your small child s hand 
traveling oyer it, with the pen held tight in the rosy little 
fingers. I think I have cried oftencr, my darling, over that 
first copy of yours than over all my other keepsakes put to 
gether." 

Rosamond turned aside her face toward the window to 
hide the tears which she could restrain no longer. 

As she wiped them away, the first sight of the darkening 
sky warned her that the twilight dimness was coming soon. 
How dull and faint the glow in the west looked now ! how 
near it was to the close of day ! 

When she turned toward the bed again, her mother was 
still looking at the leaf of the copy-book. 

"That nurse-maid who tore up all the rest of it to light 
the fire," she said, " was a kind friend to me in those early 
days at Porthgenna. She used sometimes to let me put you 
to bed, Rosamond ; and never asked questions, or teased me, 
as the rest of them did. She risked the loss of her place by 
being so good to me. My mistress was afraid of my betray 
ing myself and betraying her if I \vas much in the nursery, 
and she gave orders that I was not to go there, because it 
was not my place. None of the other women-servants were 
so often stopped from playing with you and kissing you, 
Rosamond, as I was. But the nurse-maid God bless and 
prosper her for it ! stood my friend. I often lifted you into 
your little cot, my love, and wished you good-night, when my 
mistress thought I was at work in her room. Yon used to 
say you liked your nurse better than you liked me, but you 



THE DEAD SECRET. 345 

never told me so fretfully; and you always put your laugh 
ing lips up to mine whenever I asked you for a kiss !" 

Rosamond laid her head gently on the pillow by the side 
of her mother s. " Try to think less of the past, dear, and 
more of the future," she whispered pleadingly; "try to think 
of the time when my child will help you to recall those old 
days without their sorrow the time when you will teach 
him to put his lips up to yours, as I used to put mine." 

" I will try, Rosamond but my only thoughts of the fut 
ure, for years and years past, have been thoughts of meeting 
you in heaven. If my sins are forgiven, how shall we meet 
there ? Shall you be like my little child to me the child I 
never saw again after she was five years old ? I wonder if 
the mercy of God will recompense me for our long separation 
on earth ? I wonder if you will first appear to me in the 
happy world with your child s face, and be what you should 
have been to me on earth, my little angel that I can carry 
in my arms ? If we pray in heaven, shall I teach you your 
prayers there, as some comfort to me for never having taught 
them to you here ?" 

She paused, smiled sadly, and, closing her eyes, gave her 
self in silence to the dream-thousrhts that were still floating 

3 O 

in her mind. Thinking that she might sink to rest again if 
she was left undisturbed, Rosamond neither moved nor spoke. 
After watching the peaceful face for some time, she became 
conscious that the light was fading on it slowly. As that 
conviction impressed itself on her, she looked round at the 
window once more. 

The western clouds wore their quiet twilight colors al 
ready : the close of day had come. 

The moment she moved the chair, she felt her mother s 
hand on her shoulder. When she turned again toward the 
bed, she saw her mother s eyes open and looking at her 
looking at her, as she thought, with a change in their expres 
sion, a change to vacancy. 

" Why do I talk of heaven ?" she said, turning her face 
suddenly toward the darkening sky, and speaking in low, 
muttering tones. " How do I know I am fit to go there ? 
And yet, Rosamond, I am not guilty of breaking my oath to 
my mistress. You can say for me that I never destroyed the 
letter, and that I never took it away with me when I left the 



346 THE DEAD SEC11ET. 

house. I tried to get it out of the Myrtle Room ; but I 
only wanted to hide it somewhere else. I never thought 
to take it away from the house : I never meant to break my 
oath." 

" It will be dark soon, mother. Let me get up for one mo 
ment to light the candles." 

Her hand crept softly upward, and clung fast round Rosa 
mond s neck. 

"I never swore to give him the letter," she said. " There 
was no crime in the hiding of it. You found it in a picture, 
Rosamond ? They used to call it a picture of the Porthgen- 
na ghost. Nobody knew how old it w r as, or when it came 
into the house. My mistress hated it, because the painted 
face had a strange likeness to hers. She told me, when first 
I lived at Porthgenna, to take it down from the wall and de 
stroy it. I was afraid to do that ; so I hid it away, before 
ever you were born, in the Myrtle Room. You found the 
letter at the back of the picture, Rosamond ? And yet that 
was a likely place to hide it in. Nobody had ever found the 
picture. Why should any body find the letter that was hid 
in it ?" 

" Let me get a light, mother ! I am sure you would like 
to have a light !" 

" No ! no light now. Give the darkness time to gather 
down there in the corner of the room. Lift me up close to 
you, and let me whisper." 

The clinging arm tightened its grasp as Rosamond raised 
her in the bed. The fading light from the window fell full 
on her face, and was reflected dimly in her vacant eyes. 

" I am waiting for something that comes at dusk, before 
the candles are lit," she whispered in low, breathless tones. 
" My mistress ! down there !" And she pointed away to 
the farthest corner of the room near the door. 

" Mother ! for God s sake, what is it ! what has changed 
you so ?" 

"That s right ! say * mother. If she does come, she can t 
stop when she hears you call me { mother, when she sees us 
together at last, loving and knowing each other in spite of 
her. Oh, my kind, tender, pitying child ! if you can only de 
liver me from her, how long may I live yet ! how happy we 
may both be !" 



THE DEAD SECRET. 347 

" Don t talk so ! don t look so ! Tell me quietly dear, 
dear mother, tell me quietly 

" Hush ! hush ! I am going to tell you. She threatened 
me on her death-bed, if I thwarted her she said she would 
come to me from the other world. Rosamond ! I have 
thwarted her and she has kept her promise all my life since, 
she has kept her promise ! Look ! Down there !" 

Her left arm. was still clasped round Rosamond s neck. 
She stretched her right arm out toward the far corner of the 
room, and shook her hand slowly at the empty air. 

" Look !" she said. " There she is as she always comes to 
me at the close of day with the coarse, black dress on, that 
my guilty hands made for her with the smile that there was 
on her face when she asked me if she looked like a servant. 
Mistress ! mistress ! Oh, rest at last ! the Secret is ours no 
longer ! Rest at last ! my child is my own again ! Rest, at 
last ; and come between us no more !" 

She ceased, panting for breath ; and laid her hot, throb 
bing cheek against the cheek of her daughter. " Call me 
* mother again!" she whispered. "Say it loud; and send 
her away from me forever !" 

Rosamond mastered the terror that shook her in every 
limb, and pronounced the word. 

Her mother leaned forward a little, still gasping heavily 
for breath, and looked with straining eyes into the quiet twi 
light dimness at the lower end of the room. 

"Gone!!!" she cried suddenly, with a scream of exulta 
tion. " Oh, merciful, merciful God ! gone at last !" 

The next instant she sprang up on her knees in the bed. 
For one awful moment her eyes shone in the gray twilight 
with a radiant, unearthly beauty, as they- fastened their last 
look of fondness on her daughter s face. " Oh, my love ! my 
angel !" she murmured, " how happy we shall be together 
now !" As she said the words, she twined her arms round 
Rosamond s neck, and pressed her lips rapturously on the 
lips of her child. 

The kiss lingered till her head sank forward gently on 
Rosamond s bosom lingered, till the time of God s mercy 
came, and the weary heart rested at last. 



348 THE DEAD SECRET. 



CHAPTER V. 

FORTY THOUSAND POUNDS. 

No popular saying is more commonly accepted than the 
maxim which asserts that Time is the great consoler; and, 
probably, no popular saying more imperfectly expresses the 
truth. The work that we must do, the responsibilities that 
we must undertake, the example that we must set to others 
these are the great consolers, for these apply the first rem 
edies to the malady of grief. Time possesses nothing but 
the negative virtue of helping it to wear itself out. Who 
that has observed at all, has not perceived that those among 
us who soonest recover from the shock of a great grief for 
the dead are those who have the most duties to perform 
toward the living? When the shadow of calamity rests on 
our houses, the question with us is not how much time will 
suffice to bring back the sunshine to us again, but how much 
occupation have w r e got to force us forward into the place 
where the sunshine is waiting for us to come? Time may 
claim many victories, but not the victory over grief. The 
great consolation for the loss of the dead who are gone is 
to be found in the great necessity of thinking of the living 
who remain. 

The history of Rosamond s daily life, now that the dark 
ness of a heavy affliction had fallen on it, was in itself the 
sufficient illustration of this truth. It was not the slow lapse 
of time that helped to raise her up again, but the necessity 
which would not wait for time the necessity which made 
her remember what was due to the husband who sorrowed 
with her, to the child whose young life was linked to hers, 
and to the old man whose helpless grief found no support 
but in the comfort she could give, learned no lesson of resig 
nation but from the example she could set. 

From the first the responsibility of sustaining him had 
rested on her shoulders alone. Before the close of day had 
been counted out by the first hour of the night, she had been 
torn from the bedside by the necessity of meeting him at 



THE DEAD SECRET. 349 

the door, and preparing him to know that he was entering 
the chamber of death. To guide the dreadful truth gradu 
ally and gently, till it stood face to face with him, to sup 
port him under the shock of recognizing it, to help his mind 
to recover after the inevitable blow had struck it at last 
these were the sacred duties which claimed all the devotion 
that Rosamond had to give, and which forbade her heart, 
for his sake, to dwell selfishly on its own grief. 

He looked like a man whose faculties had been stunned 
past recovery. He would sit for hours with the musical box 
by his side, patting it absently from time to time, and whis 
pering to himself as he looked at it, but never attempting to 
set it playing. It was the one memorial left that reminded 
him of all the joys and sorrows, the simple family interests 
and affections of his past life. When Rosamond first sat by 
his side and took his hand to comfort him, he looked back 
ward and forward with forlorn eyes from her compassionate 
face to the musical box, and vacantly repeated to himself the 
same words over and over again : " They are all gone my 
brother Max, my wife, my little Joseph, my sister Agatha, 
and Sarah, my niece ! I and my little bit of box are left 
alone together in the world. Mozart can sing no more. He 
has sung to the last of them now !" 

The second day there was no change in him. On the 
third, Rosamond placed the book of Hymns reverently on 
her mother s bosom, laid a lock of her own hair round it, and 
kissed the sad, peaceful face for the last time. 

The old man was with her at that silent leave-taking, and 
followed her away when it was over. By the side of the 
coffin, and afterward, when she took him back with her to 
her husband, he was still sunk in the same apathy of grief 
which had overwhelmed him from the first. But when they 
began to speak of the removal of the remains the next day 
to Porthgenna church-yard, they noticed that his dim eyes 
brightened suddenly, and that his wandering attention fol 
lowed every word they said. After a while he rose from his 
chair, approached Rosamond, and looked anxiously in her 
face. " I think I could bear it better if you would let me 
go with her," he said. " We two should have gone back to 
Cornwall together, if she had lived. Will you let us still go 
back together now that she has died ?" 

Q 



350 THE DEAD SECRET. 

Rosamond gently remonstrated, and tried to make him sec 
that it was best to leave the remains to be removed under 
the charge of her husband s servant, whose fidelity could be 
depended on, and whose position made him the fittest person 
to be charged with cares and responsibilities which near re 
lations were not capable of undertaking with sufficient com 
posure. She told him that her husband intended to stop in 
London, to give her one day of rest and quiet, which she ab 
solutely needed, and that they then proposed to return to 
Cornwall in time to be at Porthgenna before the funeral took 
place ; and she begged earnestly that he would not think of 
separating his lot from theirs at a time of trouble and trial, 
when they ought to be all three most closely united by the 
ties of mutual sympathy and mutual sorrow. 

He listened silently and submissively while Rosamond 
was speaking, but he only repeated his simple petition when 
she had done. The one idea in his mind now was the idea 
of going back to Cornwall with all that was left on earth of 
his sister s child. Leonard and Rosamond both saw that it 
would be useless to oppose it, both felt that it would be cru 
elty to keep him with them, and kindness to let him go away. 
After privately charging the servant to spare him all trouble 
and difficulty, to humor him by acceding to any wishes that 
he might express, and to give him all possible protection and 
help without obtruding either officiously on his attention, 
they left him free to follow the one purpose of his heart 
which still connected him with the interests and events of 
the passing day. " I shall thank you better soon," he said 
at leave-taking, "for letting me go away out of this din of 
London with all that is left to me of Sarah, my niece. I will 
dry up my tears as well as I can, and try to have more cour 
age w T hen we meet again." 

On the next day, when they were alone, Rosamond and 
her husband sought refuge from the oppression of the pres 
ent in speaking together of the future, and of the influence 
which the change in their fortunes ought to be allowed to 
exercise on their plans and projects for the time to come. 
After exhausting this topic, the conversation turned next on 
the subject of their friends, and on the necessity of communi 
cating to some of the oldest of their associates the events 
which had followed the discovery in the Myrtle Room. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 351 

The first name on their lips while they were considering 
this question was the name of Doctor Chennery ; and Rosa 
mond, dreading the effect on her spirits of allowing her mind 
to remain unoccupied, volunteered to write to the vicar at 
once, referring briefly to what had happened since they had 
last communicated with him, and asking him to fulfill that 
year an engagement of long standing, which he had made 
with her husband and herself, to spend his autumn holiday 
with them at Porthgenna Tower. Rosamond s heart yearned 
for a sight of her old friend ; and. she knew him well enough 
to be assured that a hint at the affliction which had befallen 
her, and at the hard trial which she had undergone, would 
be more than enough to bring them together the moment 
Doctor Chennery could make his arrangements for leaving 
home. 

The writing of this letter suggested recollections which 
called to mind another friend, whose intimacy with Leonard 
and Rosamond was of recent date, but whose connection 
with the earlier among the train of circumstances which had 
led to the discovery of the Secret entitled him to a certain 
share in their confidence. This friend was Mr. Orridge, the 
doctor at West Winston, who had accidentally been the 
means of bringing Rosamond s mother to her bedside. To 
him she now wrote, acknowledging the promise which she 
had made on leaving West Winston to communicate the re 
sult of their search for the Myrtle Room ; and informing him 
that it had terminated in the discovery of some very sad 
events, of a family nature, which were now numbered with 
the events of the past. More than this it was not necessary 
to say to a friend who occupied such a position toward them 
as that held by Mr. Orridge. 

Rosamond had written the address of this second letter, 
and was absently drawing lines on the blotting-paper with 
her pen, when she was startled by hearing a contention of 
angry voices in the passage outside. Almost before she had 
time to wonder what the noise meant, the door was violent 
ly pushed open, and a tall, shabbily dressed, elderly man, 
with a peevish, haggard face, and a ragged gray beard, 
stalked in, followed indignantly by the head waiter of the 
hotel. 

" I have three times told this person," began the waiter, 

Q 



352 THE DEAD SECRET. 

with a strong emphasis on the word " person," " that Mr. and 
Mrs. Frankland " 

" Were not at home," broke in the shabbily dressed man, 
finishing the sentence for the waiter. "Yes, you told me 
that ; and I told you that the gift of speech was only used 
by mankind for the purpose of telling lies, and that conse 
quently I didn t believe you. You have told a lie. Here are 
Mr. and Mrs. Frankland both at home. I come on business, 
and I mean to have five minutes talk with them. I sit down 
unasked, and I announce my own name Andrew Treverton." 

With those words, he took his seat coolly on the nearest 
chair. Leonard s cheeks reddened with anger while he was 
speaking, but Rosamond interposed before her husband could 
say a word. 

" It is useless, love, to be angry with him," she whispered. 
" The quiet way is the best way with a man like that." She 
made a sign to the waiter, which gave him permission to 
leave the room then turned to Mr. Treverton. " You have 
forced your presence on us, Sir," she said quietly, " at a time 
when a very sad affliction makes us quite unfit for conten 
tions of any kind. We are willing to show more considera 
tion for your age than you have shown for our grief. If you 
have any thing to say to my husband, he is ready to control 
himself and to hear you quietly, for my sake." 

"And I shall be short with him and with you, for my own 
sake," rejoined Mr. Treverton. " No woman has ever yet had 
the chance of sharpening her tongue long on me, or ever shall. 
I have come here to say three things. First, your lawyer has 
told me all about the discovery in the Myrtle Room, and how 
you made it. Secondly, I have got your money. Thirdly, I 
mean to keep it. What do you think of that?" 

"I think you need not give yourself the trouble of remain 
ing in the room any longer, if your only object in coming 
here is to tell us what we know already," replied Leonard. 
" We know you have got the money ; and we never doubted 
that you meant to keep it." 

" You are quite sure of that, I suppose ?" said Mr. Trever 
ton. "Quite sure you have no lingering hope that any future 
twists and turns of the law will take the money out of my 
pocket again and put it back into yours ? It is only fair to 
tell you that there is not the shadow of a chance of any such 



THE DEAD SECRET. 353 

thing ever happening, or of my ever turning generous and 
rewarding you of my own accord for the sacrifice you have 
made. I have been to Doctors Commons, I have taken out a 
grant of administration, I have got the money legally, I have 
lodged it safe at my banker s, and I have never had one kind 
feeling in my heart since I was born. That was my brother s 
character of me, and he knew more of my disposition, of 
course, than any one else. Once again, I tell you both, not a 
farthing of all that large fortune will ever return to either 
of you." 

" And once again I tell you" said Leonard, " that we have 
no desire to hear what we know already. It is a relief to my 
conscience and to my wife s to have resigned a fortune which 
we had no right to possess ; and I speak for her as well as 
for myself when I tell you that your attempt to attach an in 
terested motive to our renunciation of that money is an in 
sult to us both which you ought to have been ashamed to 
offer." 

" That is your opinion, is it ?" said Mr. Treverton. " You, 
who have lost the money, speak to me, who have got it, in 
that manner, do you ? Pray, do you approve of your hus 
band s treating a rich man who might make both your for 
tunes in that way?" he inquired, addressing himself sharply 
to Rosamond. 

" Most assuredly I approve of it," she answered. " I never 
agreed with him more heartily in my life than I agree with 
him now." 

"Oh!" said Mr. Treverton. "Then it seems you care no 
more for the loss of the money than he does ?" 

" He has told you already," said Rosamond, " that it is as 
great a relief to my conscience as to his, to have given it 
up." 

Mr. Treverton carefully placed a thick stick which he car 
ried with him upright between his knees, crossed his hands 
on the top of it, rested his chin on them, and, in that inves 
tigating position, stared steadily in Rosamond s face. 

" I rather wish I had brought Shrowl here with me," he 
said to himself. "I should like him to have seen this. It 
staggers me, and I rather think it would have staggered him. 
Both these people," continued Mr. Treverton, looking per 
plexedly from Rosamond to Leonard, and from Leonard back 



354 THE DEAD SECRET. 

again to Rosamond, " arc, to all outward appearance, human 
beings. They walk on their hind legs, they express ideas 
readily by uttering articulate sounds, they have the usual al 
lowance of features, and in respect of weight, height, and size, 
they appear to me to be mere average human creatures of 
the regular civilized sort. And yet, there they sit, taking 
the loss of a fortune of forty thousand pounds as easily as 
Crcesus, King of Lydia, might have taken the loss of a half 
penny !" 

He rose, put on his hat, tucked the thick stick under his 
arm, and advanced a few steps toward Rosamond. 

" I am going now," he said. " Would you like to shake 
hands?" 

Rosamond turned her back on him contemptuously. 

Mr. Treverton chuckled with an air of supreme satisfac 
tion. 

Meanwhile Leonard, who sat near the fire-place, and whose 
color was rising angrily once more, had been feeling for the 
bell-rope, and had just succeeded in getting it into his hand 
as Mr. Treverton approached the door. 

"Don t ring, Lenny," said Rosamond. "He is going of 
his own accord." 

Mr. Treverton stepped out into the passage then glanced 
back into the room with an expression of puzzled curiosity 
on his face, as if he was looking into a cage which contained 
two animals of a species that he had never heard of before. 
"I have seen some strange sights in my time," he said to 
himself. " I have had some queer experience of this trump 
ery little planet, and of the creatures who inhabit it but I 
never was staggered yet by any human phenomenon as I am 
staggered now by those two." He shut the door without 
saying another word, and Rosamond heard him chuckle to 
himself again as he walked away along the passage. 

Ten minutes afterward the waiter brought up a sealed let 
ter addressed to Mrs. Frankland. It had been written, he 
said, in the coffee-room, of the hotel by the "person" who 
had intruded himself into Mr. and Mrs. Frankland s presence. 
After giving it to the waiter to deliver, he had gone away in 
a hurry, swinging his thick stick complacently, and laughing 
to himself. 

Rosamond opened the letter. 



THE DEAD SECRET. 355 

On one side of it was a crossed check, drawn in her name, 
for Forty Thousand Pounds. 

On the other side were these lines of explanation : 

"Take your money back again. First, because you and 
your husband are the only two people I have ever met with 
who are not likely to be made rascals by being made rich. 
Secondly, because you have told the truth, when letting it 
out meant losing money, and keeping it in, saving aTortune. 
Thirdly, because you are not the child of the player-woman. 
Fourthly, because you can t help yourself for I shall leave 
it to you at my death, if you won t have it now. Good-by. 
Don t come and see me, don t write grateful letters to me, 
don t invite me into the country, don t praise my generosity, 
and, above all things, don t have any thing more to do with 
Shrowl. ANDREW TREVERTON." 

The first thing Rosamond did, when she and her husband 
had a little recovered from their astonishment, was to dis 
obey the injunction which forbade her to address any grate 
ful letters to Mr. Treverton. The messenger, who was sent 
with her note to Bayswater, returned without an answer, 
and reported that he had received directions from an invisi 
ble man, with a gruff voice, to throw it over the garden wall, 
and to go away immediately after, unless he wanted to have 
his head broken. 

Mr. Nixon, to whom Leonard immediately sent word of 
what had happened, volunteered to go to Bayswater the same 
evening, and make an attempt to see Mr. Treverton on Mr. 
and Mrs. Frankland s behalf. He found Tirnon of London 
more approachable than he had anticipated. The misan 
thrope was, for once in his life, in a good humor. This ex 
traordinary change in him had been produced by the sense 
of satisfaction which he experienced in having just turned 
Shrowl out of his situation, on the ground that his master 
was not fit company for him after having committed such 
an act of folly as giving Mrs. Frankland back her forty thou 
sand pounds. 

" I told him," said Mr. Treverton, chuckling over his recol 
lection of the parting scene between his servant and himself 
" I told him that I could not possibly expect to merit his 



35G THE DEAD SECRET. 

continued approval after what I had done, and that I could 
not think of detaining him in his place under the circum 
stances. I begged him to view my conduct as leniently as 
he could, because the first cause that led to it was, after all, 
his copying the plan of Porthgenna, which guided Mrs. Frank- 
land to the discovery in the Myrtle Room. I congratulated 
him on having got a reward of five pounds for being the 
means of restoring a fortune of forty thousand ; and I bow 
ed him out with a polite humility that half drove him mad. 
Shrowl and I have had a good many tussles in our time ; he 
was always even with me till to-day, and now I ve thrown 
him on his back at last !" 

Although Mr. Treverton was willing to talk of the defeat 
and dismissal of Shrowl as long as the lawyer would listen to 
him, he was perfectly unmanageable on the subject of Mrs. 
Frankland, when Mr. Nixon tried to turn the conversation to 
that topic. He would hear no messages he would give no 
promise of any sort for the future. All that he could be pre 
vailed on to say about himself and his own projects was that 
he intended to give up the house at Bayswater, and to travel 
again for the purpose of studying human nature, in different 
countries, on a plan that he had not tried yet the plan of 
endeavoring to find out the good that there might be in peo 
ple as well as the bad. He said the idea had been suggest 
ed to his mind by his anxiety to ascertain whether Mr. and 
Mrs. Frankland were perfectly exceptional human beings or 
not. At present, he was disposed to think that they were, 
and that his travels were not likely to lead to any thing at 
all remarkable in the shape of a satisfactory result. Mr. 
Nixon pleaded hard for something in the shape of a friendly 
message to take back, along with the news of his intended 
departure. The request produced nothing but a sardonic 
chuckle, followed by this parting speech, delivered to the 
lawyer at the garden gate. 

"Tell those two superhuman people," said Timon of Lon 
don, " that I may give up my travels in disgust W 7 hen they 
least expect it ; and that I may possibly come back to look 
at them again I don t personally care about cither of them 
but I should like to get one satisfactory sensation more 
out of the lamentable spectacle of humanity before I die." 



THE DEAD SECRET. 357 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE. 

FOUR days afterward, Rosamond and Leonard and Uncle 
Joseph met together in the cemetery of the church of Porth- 
genna. 

The earth to which we all return had closed over Her: the 
weary pilgrimage of Sarah Leeson had come to its quiet end 
at last. The miner s grave from which she had twice plucked 
in secret her few memorial fragments of grass had given her 
the home, in death, which, in life, she had never known. The 
roar of the surf was stilled to a low murmur before it reached 
the place of her rest ; and the wind that swept joyously over 
the open moor paused a little when it met the old trees that 
watched over the graves, and wound onward softly through 
the myrtle hedge which held them all embraced alike in its 
circle of lustrous green. 

Some hours had passed since the last words of the burial 
service had been read. The fresh turf was heaped already 
over the mound, and the old head-stone with the miner s 
epitaph on it had been raised once more in its former place 
at the head of the grave. Rosamond was reading the in 
scription softly to her husband. Uncle Joseph had walked 
a little apart from them while she was thus engaged, and had 
knelt down by himself at the foot of the mound. He was 
fondly smoothing and patting the newly laid turf as he had 
often smoothed Sarah s hair in the long -past days of her 
youth as he had often patted her hand in the after-time, 
when her heart was weary and her hair was gray. 

" Shall we add any new words to the old, worn letters as 
they stand now ?" said Rosamond, when she had read the 
inscription to the end. "There is a blank space left on the 
stone. Shall we fill it, love, with the initials of my mother s 
name, and the date of her death ? I feel something in my 
heart which seems to tell me to do that, and to do no more." 

" So let it be, Rosamond," said her husband. " That short 
and simple inscription is the fittest and the best." 

Q2 



358 THE DEAD SECRET. 

She looked away, as he gave that answer, to the foot of the 
grave, and left him for a moment to approach the old man. 
" Take my hand, Uncle Joseph," she said, and touched him 
gently on the shoulder. " Take my hand, and let us go back 
together to the house." 

He rose as she spoke, and looked at her doubtfully. The 
musical box, inclosed in its well-worn leather case, lay on 
the grave near the place where he had been kneeling. Rosa 
mond took it up from the grass, and slung it in the old place 
at his side, which it had always occupied when he was away 
from home. He sighed a little as he thanked her. "Mozart 
can sing no more," he said. "He has sung to the last of 
them now !" 

"Don t say to the last, yet," said Rosamond "don t say 
to the last, Uncle Joseph, while I am alive. Surely Mozart 
will sing to me, for my mother s sake ?" 

A smile the first she had seen since the time of their grief 
trembled faintly round his lips. "There is comfort in 
that," he said ; " there is comfort for Uncle Joseph still, in 
hearing that." 

" Take my hand," she repeated softly. " Come home with 
us now." 

He looked down wistfully at the grave. "I will follow 
you," he said, "if you will go on before me to the gate." 

Rosamond took her husband s arm, and guided him to the 
path that led out of the church-yard. As they passed from 
sight, Uncle Joseph knelt down once more at the foot of the 
grave, and pressed his lips on the fresh turf. 

" Good-by, my child," he whispered, and laid his cheek for 
a moment against the grass before he rose again. 

At the gate, Rosamond was waiting for him. Her right 
hand was resting on her husband s arm ; her left hand was 
held out for Uncle Joseph to take. 

" How cool the breeze is !" said Leonard. " How pleasant 
ly the sea sounds ! Surely this is a fine summer day ?" 

" The calmest and loveliest of the year," said Rosamond. 
" The only clouds on the sky are clouds of shining white ; 
the only shadows over the moor lie light as down on the 
heather. Oh, Lenny, it is such a different day from that day 
of dull oppression and misty heat when we found the letter 
in the Myrtle Room ! Even the dark tower of our old house, 



THE DEAD SECRET. 359 

yonder, looks its brightest and best, as if it waited to wel 
come us to the beginning of a new life. I will make it a 
happy life to you, and to Uncle Joseph, if I can happy as 
the sunshine we are walking in now. You shall never re 
pent, love, if I can help it, that you have married a wife who 
has no claim of her own to the honors of a family name." 

"I can never repent my marriage, Rosamond, because I 
can never forget the lesson that my wife has taught me." 

" What lesson, Lenny ?" 

" An old one, my dear, which some of us can never learn 
too often. The highest honors, Rosamond, are those which 
no accident can take away the honors that are conferred 
by LOVE and TRUTH." 



THE END. 



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ABBOTT S FREDERICK THE GREAT. The History of Frederick the 
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ABBOTT S NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. The History of Napoleon Bona 
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ABBOTT S NAPOLEON AT ST. HELENA; or, Interesting Anecdotes and 
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ALISON S HISTORY OF EUROPE. FIRST SERIES : From the Commence 
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EARTH S NORTH AND CENTRAL AFRICA. Travels and Discoveries in 
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HENRY WARD BEECHER S SERMONS. Sermons by HENRY WART> 
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DRAPER S INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT OF EUROPE. A Histo 
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DRAPER S AMERICAN CIVIL POLICY. Thoughts on the Future Civil 
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DU CHAILLU S AFRICA. Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Af 
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DU CHAILLU S ASHANGO LAND. A Journey to Ashango Land: and 
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BELLOWS S OLD WORLD. The Old World in its New Face : Impressions 
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BRODHEAD S HISTORY OF NEW YORK. History of the State of New 
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BULWER S KING ARTHUR, A Poem. By LORD LYTTON. New Edition. 
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BURNS S LIFE AND WORKS. The Life and Works of Robert Burns. 
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REINDEER, DOGS, AND SNOW-SHOES. A Journal of Siberian Travel 
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CARLYLE S FREDERICK THE GREAT. History of Friedrich II., called 
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CARLYLE S FRENCH REVOLUTION. History of the French Revolution. 
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DOOLITTLE S CHINA. Social Life of the Chinese : with some Account of 
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GIBBON S ROME. History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 
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HAZEN S SCHOOL AND ARMY IN GERMANY AND FRANCE. The 

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TERENCE. SOPHOCLES. JUVENAL. XENOPHON. HOMER S ILIAD. 

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AESCHYLUS. EUBIPIDES (2 vols.). LIVY (2 vols.). 

DA VIS S CARTHAGE. Carthage and her Remains: being nn Account of 
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EDGEWORTH S (Miss) NOVELS. With Engravings. 10 vols., 12mo, 
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GROTE S HISTORY OF GREECE. 12 vol?., 12mo, Cloth, $1S 00, 



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IIELPS S SPANISH CONQUEST. The Spanish Conquest In America, and 
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JAY S WORKS. Complete Works of Rev. William Jay : comprising his 
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JEFFERSON S DOMESTIC LIFE. The Domestic Life of Thomas Jeffer 
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KINGLAKE S CRIMEAN WAR. The Invasion of the Crimea, and an Ac 
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KINGSLEY S WEST INDIES. At Last : A Christmas in the West Indies. 
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KRUMMACHER S DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL. David, the King of Isra 
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FiiKDERiCK WILLIAM KRTTMMAOHER, D.D., Author of "Elijah the Tish- 
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LAMB S COMPLETE WORKS, The Works of Charles Lamb. Compris 
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LIVINGSTONE S SOUTH AFRICA. Missionary Travels and Researches 
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With Portrait, Maps by Arruwsmith, and numerous Illustrations. 8vo, 
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LIVINGSTONES ZAMBESI. Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi 
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M CLINTOCK & STRONG S CYCLOP/EDIA. Cyclopaedia of Biblical, 
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MARCY S ARMY LIFE ON THE BORDER. Thirty Years of Army Life 
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Plains ; Explorations of New Territory ; a Trip across the Rocky Mount 
ains in the Winter; Descriptions of the Habits of Different Animals 
found in the West, and the Methods of Hunting them; with Incidents 
in the Life of Different Frontier Men, &c , &c. By Brevet Brigadier- 
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numerous Illustrations. Svo, Cloth, Beveled Edges, $3 00. 

MACAULAY S HISTORY OF ENGLAND. The History of England from 
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MOSHEIM S ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, Ancient and Modern; in 
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in their Connection with the State of Learning and Philosophy, and the 
Political History of Europe during that Period". Translated, wilh Notes, 
fcc.. by A. MACLAINE, D.D. A new Edition, continued to 1820, by C. 
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THE DESERT OF THE EXODUS. Journeys on Foot in the Wilderness 
of the Forty Years Wanderings; undertaken in connection with the 
Ordnance Survey of Sinai and the Palestine Exploration Fund. By E. 
II. PALMER, M.A., Lord Almoner s Professor of Arabic, and Fellow of 
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OLIPHANT S CHINA AND JAPAN. Narrative of the Earl of Elgin s Mis- 
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OLIPHANT S (Mns.) LIFE OF EDWARD IRVING. The Life of Edward 
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his Journals and Correspondence. By Mrs. OLIPUANT. Portrait. Svo, 
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RAWLINSON S MANUAL OF ANCIENT HISTORY. A Manual of An- 
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RECLUS S THE EARTH. The Earth: A Descriptive History of the Phe 
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HECLUS S OCEAN. The Ocean, Atmosphere, and Life. Being the Second 
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SHAKSPEARE. The Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare, with the 
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SMILES S LIFE OF THE STEPHENSONS. The Life of George Stephen- 
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SMILES S HISTORY OF THE HUGUENOTS. The Huguenots: their Set 
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SPEKE S AFRICA. Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. 
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STRICKLAND S (Miss) QUEENS OF SCOTLAND. Lives of the Queens of 
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THE STUDENT S SERIES. 

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Gibbon. Engravings. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

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Rome. By Liddell. Engravings. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Old Testament History. Engravings. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

New Testament History. Engravings, 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Strickland s Queens of England. Abridged. Eng s. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Ancient History of the East. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Hallam s Middle Ages. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Hallam s Constitutional History of England. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

Lyell s Elements of Geology. 12mo, Cloth, $2 00. 

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THOMSON S LAND AND THE BOOK. The Land and the Book; or, Bib 
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and the Scenery of the Holy Land. By W. M. THOMSON, D.D., Twenty- 
five Years a Missionary of the A.B.C.F.M. in Syria and Palestine. With 
two elaborate Maps of Palestine, an accurate Plan of Jerusalem, and 
several hundred Engravings, representing the Scenery, Topography, and 
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TYERMAN S W ESLEY. The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, 
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TYERMAN S OXFORD METHODISTS. The Oxford Methodists : Memoirs 
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VAMBE~RY S CENTRAL ASIA. Travels in Central Asia. Being the Ac 
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WOOD S HOMES WITHOUT HANDS. Homes Without Hands: being n 
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